College football is officially back!
Okay, it's just a five game slate spread out across Saturday, but it's still a nice little appetizer to the smorgasbord that begins next Thursday.
The Week Zero matchups carry a ton of intrigue, but there is some hesitation on our end for betting most of the games.
On The Gambler College Football Podcast, Jon Jansen and myself broke down the entire slate and talked about the Pac-12/B1G/ACC "Alliance" and what it means for the college football landscape.
Here is the link to the entire podcast. You can listen to the podcast live every Wednesday on "The Line Change" as well.
Most weeks we'll be posting our official picks on Fridays to let the lines adjust as much as possible. Below are our best bets for Week 0.
Southern Utah at San Jose State (-23.5)
San Jose State was one of my favorite teams to bet on last season.
The Spartans return quarterback Nick Starkel, who is one of many players set to achieve Perry Ellis status on the gridiron this season.
SJSU needs to get off to a fast start since it plays its next three games on the road, starting with a trip to USC for Week 1.
Southern Utah was 1-5 in the truncated FCS season and is not expected to put up much of a fight.
San Jose State opened as a 22.5-point favorite and is now up to 24 points. I don't typically lock in picks on Wednesday for college football, but I did with this one at 23.5.
This is the pick I feel most confident in. I'm skeptical of Nebraska and I think UCLA may hold some stuff back against Hawai'i so everything isn't on film for LSU to dissect.
Hawai'i (+17.5) at UCLA (Under 68)
A lot of attention is going towards Nebraska and Illinois because it's a Big Ten matchup, but Hawai'i-UCLA will be the best of the weekend.
It features two of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football and two teams that could have big seasons in their respective conferences.
I like UCLA this season, but I'll take the 17.5 points with the Rainbow Warriors. Their defense has improved their PPG the last three seasons and is in good position to do so again in 2021 as they return 11 starters on defense.
Hawai'i QB Chevan Cordeiro also has his top two skill players from last year in RB Calvin Turner and WR Jared Smart, so this should be another good iteration of the run-and-gun offense. Hawaii should make this a competitive and fun game.
While the offenses will get most of the attention, deservedly so, both of these defenses are experienced and should improve in 2021.
UCLA's biggest problem in the Chip Kelly era has been their defense, but that should change. They return 10 starters on a defense that showed some improvement last season. Not a great defense, but the best under Chip Kelly. Add in that this should be a competitive game and I think it ends up being a lower scoring game than expected.