The Four Pack: Nebraska vs. Northwestern, Illinois vs. Wyoming among top college football picks in Week 0

Your long wait is over. The college football season begins Saturday with Week 0, which is a weird thing to call the first week of the season. Week 0 used to be just for FCS teams and maybe an FBS game to get the juices flowing, but we watch football in August just as easily as we do in September. Realizing this, TV networks started putting more and more games into Week 0. Now, it’s kind of a soft start for the season.

Why they don’t start calling it Week 1, I’m not sure. Maybe they saw the reaction when the NCAA Tournament began calling the playoff games the “First Round” and the first round the “Round of 64”. Maybe week 0 sounds cool, so they stuck with it. I don’t know, and that’s okay. What matters is that we have real college football games to watch this weekend.

This is not a complete list, so consider this as week 0 of the Six Pack. Instead of six games, I choose only four. It’s like one of those four packs you can buy at a microbrewery. Maybe we’ll call it The Six Pack IPA. Whatever we call it, I have picks for you, and I fully intend to have another winning season in the column. In fact, the only losing season I’ve had with The Six Pack in the last five years was the 2020 COVID-19 season, so I blame COVID, not myself.

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Game of the week

Featured Game | Northwestern Wildcats vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska versus. North West: The season kicks off in Ireland with a Big Ten battle between two teams that have lost their last six games of the 2021 season. In fact, Nebraska’s last victory of 2021 was a 56-7 rout against Northwestern. Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost enters the season on one of the hottest seats in the country, and the prevailing theory is that he needs to reach one bowling game, at a minimum, to keep his job. Winning this match would be a boost towards achieving this goal. Northwestern, meanwhile, won the Big Ten West in 2020 but followed that up with a 3-9 effort in 2021 after the defense fell off a cliff under freshman defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil. .

Honestly, this game is not easy to understand. Since the spread gives Nebraska a bit too much credit, under betting seems like the smarter play. The Huskers have a new offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple, who helped Pitt win an ACC title last season, and a new Texas transfer QB Casey Thompson. It’s not unreasonable to expect all of these new parts to come out the door. Also, O’Neil is entering his second year as Wildcats DC, and a young defense is now older. Since defense is a big part of the identity of the program, I expect the Wildcats to stiffen up in 2022. Even if they don’t, I don’t expect their offense to scores a lot of points. I see a low-scoring affair regardless of Nebraska’s margin of victory, and Northwestern’s path to victory isn’t a shootout. Every way I break this game down suggests going with the underside. Nebraska 24, Northwest 14 | Less than 50.5

Lock of the week

Featured Game | New Mexico State Aggies vs. Nevada Wolf Pack

Nevada at New Mexico State: You know it’s Week 0 when the week lockout involves betting on a New Mexico State program that has gone 8-30 since 2018. Although it seems crazy to take the Aggies against a Nevada team that went 8-5 last year, the Wolf Pack are a very different team in 2022. First, QB Carson Strong and WR Romeo Doubs are in the NFL. Also, coach Jay Norvell, who went 33-26 in five seasons, left to take control of Colorado State. It’s the same Colorado State program that went 18-35 in those same five seasons.

Norvell has also taken his coaching staff and a few key players with him through the transfer portal. What remains is a new head coach, Ken Wilson, who knows the program well after being an assistant at Reno from 1989 to 2012. The only time he didn’t coach Nevada during that time was when he was AD associate of the school. He’s never been a head coach and inherits a roster that’s nowhere near the level of what the team had last year, and I don’t think most power ratings have figured that out. .

Meanwhile, New Mexico State will be led by freshman coach Jerry Kill. While the Aggies are meant to struggle, Kill has plenty of experience to make the most of what he has and plays a style of football designed to keep things close. I think the Aggies can do that on Saturday. Nevada 27, New Mexico State 24 | New Mexico State +9

Total team of the week

Featured Game | Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Wyoming Cowboys

Wyoming at Illinois: I don’t normally bet on team totals in this column because I like to keep things as simple as possible to appeal to a wider audience. With a limited roster, however, I have to find value where I can, and there is value on that Illinois team total. The Illini went 5-7 last year and regretted a few of those seven losses. The team’s biggest problem was the attack, but coach Bret Bielema didn’t cross his fingers hoping things would improve in Year 2. Instead, he did bringing in a new offensive coordinator, Barry Lunney Jr. The two have a history together, from their time. together in Arkansas, until Bielema saw Lunney’s UTSA offense rack up 37 points against the Illini in Champaign last fall.

Illinois’ offense probably won’t look like what you’d expect from a Bielema team. While running the ball will always be the bread and butter, the Illini plan to move at a faster pace and spread things out a bit more. They face a team from Wyoming who, like Nevada, lost a lot to the transfer gate. It is also undersized. Looking at the depth chart for both teams, the Illinois offensive line has about 50 pounds per player on the Wyoming defensive line. This is an area to exploit, and with this being the first home game and Bielema looking to give fans reason to be excited about 2022, I expect the Illinois offense to show a little. It won’t display the entire playbook with Indiana on the bridge, but that’s not necessary either. Illinois 31, Wyoming 17 | Illinois Over 27.5

Numbers game of the week

Featured Game | Utah State Aggies vs. Connecticut Huskies

UConn at Utah State: Here’s a little behind the curtain look: We don’t have many games to choose from, and we don’t know as much about these teams as we think. We spend the whole offseason convincing ourselves what the teams will look like and what is likely to happen. Once the games start, however, we are regularly slapped in the face by reality.

Utah State will be one of the best teams in Mountain West. I’m confident in that, just as I’m confident that Utah State is much better than UConn. That said, my numbers suggest Utah State is no 27 points better than UConn. My numbers say that gap should be closer to 24 points, so I trust those numbers until I have a reason not to. Betting on UConn is never fun, nor easy. It will be a sweat, but if we start a season, might as well dive in head first. Utah State 34, UConn 10 | +27

What college football picks can you confidently make in Week 0, and which big favorite will get a huge scare? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread – all from a proven computer model that has brought in nearly $3,600 in profit over the past six seasons – and find out.

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