Week 0 college football betting odds and early thoughts

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Seven games on the college football schedule in Week 0

It is a little bit unfair to refer to the lines posted for Week 0 as “early lines”. These lines have been up for quite a while, much like the lines for Week 1. Betting demand for football options over the spring and summer increases year in and year out and sportsbooks are much quicker to post than they ever used to be.

 

While these lines have had a long time to marinate and settle in, we’re going to see some line moves this week. Once you get to the week of the game, betting limits increase and a whole lot more volume comes in, both from advanced bettors and the recreational crowd.

Jonathan Von Tobel will take over this article starting next week because he will be on the “College Lines Revealed” show on Sunday afternoons, but I’ll handle it this week as we look ahead to the first seven FBS games of the season.

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Navy Midshipmen vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-20.5, 50.5): Navy and Notre Dame begin the season in what will mostly be a standalone window from Dublin, Ireland. The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be the only game going until 5:30 when UTEP and Jacksonville State kick off. Way back in May, DraftKings opened Notre Dame -21.5, so we’ve seen very little movement here, as Navy breaks in a new head coach in Brian Newberry and a tweaked option offense under first-year OC Grant Chesnut.

The total has ticked up from 49 to 50.5 with some excitement about new Notre Dame starting QB Sam Hartman, who was previously at Wake Forest and threw for just under 13,000 yards over five seasons in Winston-Salem.

San Jose State Spartans at USC Trojans (-30.5, 64.5): Hopefully you didn’t want to watch Heisman favorite Caleb Williams in Week 0 because this game is on the Pac-12 Network and not many cable providers offer it. This spread opened 29.5 at DK back in May and touched 31 before settling back in at 30.5. The total has been bumped from 63 to 64.5, but we’ll see more interest in both side and total as the week goes along.

USC surely comes into the season motivated as can be, as the Trojans lost 47-24 in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a hobbled Williams and missed out on a chance to go to the College Football Playoff. A late collapse against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl was the cherry on top for a team that lost to Utah by one point in an otherwise perfect regular season.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Vanderbilt Commodores (-16.5, 55.5): The only other game featuring a Power Five team this weekend will be in Nashville. Hawaii makes the long trek to the Music City after hosting Vanderbilt in Honolulu to open last season. The Commodores won that game 63-10 and won five games for the first time since 2018, but did miss out on that elusive bowl berth.

This line did open Vandy -18.5 three months ago at DK and the total opened 57 about a month later. Dog and Under money have been the stories so far, but this total did get as low as 53.5 before popping back up a bit.

Other Games

UMass Minutemen at New Mexico State Aggies (-8, 44.5): Jerry Kill took New Mexico State to a bowl game for the first time since 2017 and just the second time in program history. The Aggies joined FBS in 2001 and opened as high as 10.5 in this one, but bettors aren’t willing to trust Kill’s team to win by that big of a margin.

Ohio Bobcats at San Diego State Aztecs (-3.5, 49): On paper, this seems like the best game of the weekend. The MAC gets looked down upon for a variety of reasons, but Kurtis Rourke is a true baller at the QB position for the Bobcats. He’ll get a stiff test from a San Diego State defense that annually ranks among the Mountain West’s best and usually the nation’s best. Little by little, this line has dropped to the point where Ohio is +3.5 after opening +5.5 at DK. This will be a fascinating line to watch during the week.

UTEP Miners (-1, 52) at Jacksonville State Gamecocks: Jacksonville State debuts as a FBS team with a coin flip home game against UTEP. Miners head coach Dana Dimel is on a seat so hot to begin the season that this may be a must-win contest right out of the gate. The Gamecocks have a familiar head coach in Rich Rodriguez and QB Zion Webb was granted a seventh year of eligibility. We’ve got a flipped favorite here, as Jacksonville State opened -1.5 and got as high as -2.5 in the summer, but the closer we get, the more love UTEP has gotten.

Florida International Panthers at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (-10.5, 58.5): Guess I can’t leave FIU and LA Tech hanging, eh? Bettors seem to be, as this line hasn’t really moved much or garnered much interest over the summer. The Bulldogs lost six of seven to end last season and FIU lost four straight to end the year, allowing 177 points in the process. This is a revenge game for Louisiana Tech after losing 42-34 in Miami last season.