For those who’ve been keeping track at home, this Saturday represents the end of a 31-week period that did not include college football. This limited schedule, referred to as Week 0, includes blue blood programs in Notre Dame and Southern Cal kicking off their seasons to frenzied welcome from fans all over the globe.
The Fighting Irish have the distinction of playing the first game of the season, an international tussle against the Naval Academy in Dublin, Ireland. This marks the 96th meeting between the two institutions, and the Midshipmen are 21-point underdogs after a close loss in 2022.
The Trojans open their season against the Spartans of San José State at the Coliseum in LA. SC lost their final two games of the 2022 season, the first of which likely cost them a spot in the College Football Playoff when Utah trounced them in the conference title game.
Heisman winner Caleb Williams then tossed five touchdowns and threw for 462 yards in a last-second defeat at the hands of Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. Williams and his teammates have +1500 odds of winning a championship in 2023 and are favored by 31 ahead of their home game against SJSU.
We couldn’t be more excited to be handicapping live, regular-season college football matchups this week and present our three best bets among the first seven games of the year next.
These two are familiar opponents who have continued a rather lopsided rivalry that dates back to the late 1920s, with a few instances of Navy having success.
The Midshipmen have lost 10 of the last 11 matchups in this series. The average meeting in that time has resulted in an 18.5-point Navy loss, but they’ve tested the Irish in recent years.
Twice in the last five games between these programs, Navy has lost by seven points or less, including a three-point defeat in 2022 where the Mids outscored the Irish 19-0 in the second half. Navy returns its top-five leading rushers from last season while Notre Dame will replace Michael Mayer, and both teams lost their best defensive players year-over-year.
The arrival of Sam Hartman is the question mark that Navy will need to contain to stay within striking distance, and we expect them to do so despite a crowd that will heavily favor the Irish.
The Bobcats and Aztecs were vastly different teams in 2022. The average total across Ohio’s 14 games last year added to just over 60 points, 18 points higher than the 13-game sample size for SDSU.
Ohio returns its leading passer, rusher, and receiver for the 2023 season, including QB Kurtis Rourke coming back from a torn ACL, while the Aztecs will rely on some players to step up along the offensive line and receiving corps after ranking 108th in the FBS in per-game scoring last season.
These two had one shared opponent last season, the Toledo Rockets. San Diego State beat Toledo 17-14 to close out their non-conference schedule in September, and Ohio fell to the Rockets in the MAC title game last December. It’s worth noting that Rourke had already suffered his season-ending injury in that latter matchup.
We like Ohio to push the pace in this game and for SDSU to do their best to keep up in a meeting that goes over the total.
These two met last season in a Week 0 game won by Vanderbilt 63-10. This total is still suspiciously low after opening at 57 and being bet down to 53 at one point, and we feel like we’ll be betting against the public in this spot.
Hawaii’s offensive line experienced a lot of turnover, and several members of their defense are no longer eligible entering the 2023 season, so it’s difficult to see them scoring much more than 14-20 points in this matchup.
Vandy needs a running back to fill the shoes of Re’Mahn Davis, who racked up 232 carries and rushed for a team-high 1,042 yards and five scores. They do at least return leading receiver Will Sheppard, who caught two touchdowns in this matchup last year. Give us these two programs to stay under the lower total in their 2023 openers.