College Football Power Five: 4 Teams That Can Pay Off On Week 0

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Josh McCray #0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini stiff arms Ruben Hyppolite II #11 of the Maryland Terrapins during a game on September 17, 2021. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP

Does anybody know who created the term “Week 0” for the first week of the college football season?

The same guy who named Coke Zero? The reality is some dolt at ESPN invented the term when the network began promoting the first eight games played in the 2017 season.

There are 11 games opening the 2022 college football season this weekend in venues ranging from Dublin, Ireland, to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Let it be noted there’s not a single top 25-ranked team playing this weekend. Here’s a look at four semi-interesting Week 0 matchups with a look at the college football odds for each game.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Northwestern Wildcats

Saturday, August 27, 2022 – 12:30 PM EDT at Aviva Stadium

If Scott Frost wasn’t a Lincoln native who transferred back home from Stanford and had a 24-2 record as a Huskers QB starter, including guiding Nebraska to the last national championship it won in 1997, he would have already been fired as the current Huskers head coach. After four dismal seasons, he’s 15-29 overall and 10-25 in the Big Ten.

Last year, Nebraska was just 1-8 in the conference. The last time the Huskers won just one conference game was in 1958 in the then-Big 7 which eventually grew into the Big 12 from which Nebraska departed at the end of the 2010 season. The Huskers’ only league win last year was over – guess who? – Northwestern in a stunning 56-7 beatdown.

Suspect Teams

Why are these teams playing in Ireland to open this season? Maybe it’s because both need to play each other far away from the U.S., sort of like being in witness protection since both were at the bottom of the Big Ten West Division a year ago.

The only thing that may save Frost’s job with a winning season and breaking a five-year streak of no bowl appearances is the transfer portal. It has provided the Huskers with five starters, led by former Texas QB Casey Thompson. Last season in 10 starts for the Longhorns, Thompson threw 24 TDs and 9 interceptions. Nebraska hasn’t thrown for that many TDs as a team since 2005.

NCAAF Pick: Nebraska -13 (-106) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

Wyoming Cowboys vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Saturday, August 27, 2022 - 04:00 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium

The large and in charge Bret Bielema made some noise last year in his first season as Illinois’ head coach after serving as an NFL assistant for three seasons following. Prior to that, he was fired as Arkansas’ head coach in 2017.

Bielema is back in his Big Ten comfort zone as a former Iowa defensive tackle who embraced the league’s power running game as Wisconsin’s head coach from 2006 to 2012 when he was 68-24 with Rose Bowl appearances in his last three seasons.

Bielema's Power Run

Bielema’s power running philosophy never fit in the SEC, a league predicated on speed, athleticism and power... and plenty of schools perfecting the art of illegally buying top recruits long before NIL agreements became reality in July 2021.

He was 5-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten a year ago, springing a 20-18 upset in nine overtimes at 24-point favorite No. 7-ranked Penn State.

Despite the fact Wyoming was 7-6 with head coach Craig Bohl winning a third straight bowl game last season, the Cowboys are 1-19 against current Big Ten teams. The Fighting Illini starting offensive line outweighs Wyoming’s defensive line tackle to tackle by an average of 60 pounds per man.

NCAAF Pick: Illinois -11 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Nevada Wolf Pack vs. New Mexico State Aggies

Saturday, August 27, 2022 - 10:00 PM EDT at Aggie Memorial Stadium

New Mexico State is on a tear as possibly college football’s most porous defense. The Aggies host Nevada in Saturday’s opener, the return game of last year’s 55-28 home beatdown by the Wolfpack. In six of the last seven years, New Mexico State has averaged allowing 36 or more points, including more than 40 points in three of those seasons.

Last season, the Aggies took hefty November road game guarantees when they gave up 59 and 53 points on consecutive Saturday losses to SEC opponents Alabama (favored by 51 and won by 56) and Kentucky (favored by 35 and won. By 40).

NCAAF Pick: Nevada -9 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Saturday, August 27, 2022 - 10:30 PM EDT at Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex

Vanderbilt has had 13 head football coaches in the last 50 years combining for six winning seasons. But none has said something as blatantly insane as second-year Commodores’ coach Clark Lea, who was a Vandy fullback from 2002 to 2004 on Commodores’ teams that lost 22 of 24 SEC games.

Even after Lea’s squad was 0-8 in the SEC last season, he said this past July at the league’s preseason media days, “We know in time Vanderbilt football will be the best program in the country.”

In time? Like maybe the next time Halley’s Comet is supposed to be seen in July 2061?

Best Case Scenario

The best Lea can hope for is improving the program enough to draw head coaching interest from elsewhere. Just three Vandy head coaches since 1974 weren’t either fired or quit or retired or evaporated and who actually got new head coaching jobs. LSU even hired Gerry DiNardo as its coach in 1995 after he lost his last Vandy game 65-0 to Tennessee.

The only reason Vandy is favored in this game is that Hawaii’s program is trying to get out of the gutter where it was dumped last January. That’s when previous head coach Todd Graham was so disliked by his players that enough of them quit and forced the Rainbow Warriors to cancel their Hawaii Bowl appearance vs. Memphis a day before the game.

Timmy Chang, one of the greatest passing QBs in NCAA history in four seasons playing for Hawaii from 2000-04, was hired to replace Graham. Unless Chang has some zip left in his 40-year-old throwing arm, his first season with just six returning starters is going to be rough and not worthy of our last NCAAF pick.

NCAAF Pick: Vanderbilt -7.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.