Alas, the wait is over!
Finally, Week 0 has arrived. While we don’t have a full slate of FBS games this week, we do get a chance to watch a handful of games. A few matchups even feature exciting Group of Five programs – Ohio at San Diego State has my attention – making for an exciting opening Saturday of the college football season.
Last year, I shared a handful of best bets involving Group of Five teams every week during the season. I’ll aim to share best bets again this fall, but I’m going to start by giving out just three this week. Cut me some slack, as it’s a light week!
So let’s take a deeper look at the college football betting odds and find some plays for this weekend. I went 42-38 on my best bets last fall, a respectable yet unspectacular record. I’m no handicapping expert and my suggested wagers should be viewed accordingly.
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Navy +20.5 vs. Notre Dame
The Midshipmen struggled in 2022, going just 4-8. The down year led to a switch atop the program. Ken Niumatalolo is no longer the team’s head coach, as former defensive coordinator Brian Newberry takes over the role.
While Navy wasn’t great in 2022, the Midshipmen lost five games by one possession, including a 35-32 loss to Notre Dame. Navy easily could’ve made a bowl game, but it fell short in a bunch of competitive games.
The program returns plenty of talented defenders, including defensive end Jacob Busic, and the triple-option attack figures to give Notre Dame at least some trouble in Week 0. Notre Dame is the better team, but I’ll take Navy to keep it within three scores.
Vanderbilt -17 vs. Hawaii
Hawaii appears to be in a major rebuild under head coach Tommy Chang. While they made some progress last season, the Rainbow Warriors lost to Vanderbilt 63-10 to open last season. Why would a road tilt against Vanderbilt go better this season?
Vanderbilt, under head coach Clark Lea, made significant strides in 2022. The Commodores went 5-7 overall, nearly qualifying for a bowl game. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the program reach six wins in 2022. I expect Vanderbilt to open the season with a statement win over Hawaii.
Jacksonville State +1 vs. UTEP
Quarterback Zion Webb returns for a Jacksonville State program that went 9-2 last season, the first with Rich Rodriguez as head coach. I’m excited about the Gamecocks’ offensive potential, and while the defense might have flaws, I think this game means a lot to the program.
Jacksonville State is at home, and the Gamecocks are in the process of transitioning to the FBS level. Facing a CUSA peer at home to open the season is a big deal for this team, and I’m anticipating a decent home environment.
This won’t be an easy win – UTEP has improved the last couple of seasons – but Jacksonville State is good enough to open 2023 with a narrow home victory.