CFB betting lines out for Saturday August 26th games
The 2023 college football season will kick off before we know it. When you think about it, August 26 really isn’t that far away in the grand scheme of things and we will be ramping up our CFB coverage as we keep counting down the days to the games.
There are seven Week 0 games, highlighted by the Navy vs. Notre Dame showdown in Dublin, Ireland. We’ll also see FBS newcomer Jacksonville State host UTEP in the first Division I-A game ever for the Gamecocks.
Projected first overall pick and Heisman Trophy favorite Caleb Williams also begins his season in Week 0 when USC hosts San Jose State in a big favorite role.
DraftKings Sportsbook has lines out for the Week 0 games and here are a few thoughts on the matchups:
(odds as of May 22, 12:30 p.m. PT)
Navy Midshipmen vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-21.5)
For the first time since 2007, Navy will have a different head coach. Brian Newberry, who was the defensive coordinator for the last four seasons, was promoted to head coach after Ken Niumatalolo was fired following the season-ending loss to Army. Our first look at the Navy offense may feature a little more passing, so that could be quite a wrinkle. This is also a very experienced Navy team with a lot of returning production. ESPN’s Bill Connelly had Navy 17th in returning production as of February 7.
Notre Dame goes into Year 2 of the Marcus Freeman era with a new signal caller in Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman, as there was a lot of turnover with the roster. Star tight end Michael Mayer was drafted to the NFL and there are some questions at the skill positions. Defensive end is a question for the Fighting Irish as well, which is an important position against an option team.
UMass Minutemen at New Mexico State Aggies (-10.5)
It is extremely rare to see New Mexico State favored by double digits against a FBS team, but UMass is barely a FBS team coming off of a 1-11 season. New Mexico State also went bowling last season for the first time since 2017 and the second time since 1960 under head coach Jerry Kill. UMass’s one win last season came against FCS Stony Brook. This is New Mexico State’s first game as a member of Conference USA and first game as a member of a conference since 2017 (Sun Belt). NMSU did lose to new conference rival FIU 21-7 as a 15.5-point home favorite last season.
FIU Panthers at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (-10.5)
How about a Week 0 conference game?! FIU and Louisiana Tech are Conference USA holdovers despite a ton of changes within the conference, including the addition of aforementioned Jacksonville State. Mike MacIntyre deserved Coach of the Year consideration for getting FIU to four wins last season after the program was in shambles following the 2021 season.
Louisiana Tech’s QB situation is interesting here with Boise State transfer Hank Bachmeier in the fold for Sonny Cumbie, whose team finished 3-9 during his first season with five losses by at least 20 points. The offense is an Air Raid in progress and last year’s game between these two was a 42-34 win for FIU in overtime, so this could be a fun-filled afternoon in Ruston.
Ohio Bobcats at San Diego State Aztecs (-5.5)
Former San Diego State and Arizona Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley has been promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator and his unit looks a lot stronger thanks to Jalen Mayden’s emergence last season. Heavy turnover on defense will mean that the offense needs to help out more overall, but at least the team has a quarterback going into the season. That’s a big deal because Connelly had the Aztecs 123rd in returning production on defense as of February 7.
The Bobcats haven’t won the MAC since 1968, but Kurtis Rourke is back and this may be the best team they’ve had in quite some time. They return a ton of production on offense and the defense projects to improve under second-year defensive coordinator Spence Nowinsky. Things should also stabilize in Year 3 under head coach Tim Albin after Frank Solich abruptly retired prior to the 2021 season.
San Jose State Spartans at USC Trojans (-29.5)
Second-year head coach Lincoln Riley had USC on the doorstep of a College Football Playoff appearance, but a hobbled Caleb Williams and a rematch with Utah proved to be too much to overcome. It was a very active offseason for USC in the transfer portal, as playing in Southern California for Riley is, unsurprisingly, a big draw. The roster looks more talented and new offensive assistant Kliff Kingsbury should have an impact.
The poor Spartans don’t have the horses to keep up on defense, but the offense could be feisty with senior QB Chevan Cordeiro against a Trojans defense that gave up 6.53 yards per play last season and nearly 30 points per game.
UTEP Miners at Jacksonville State Gamecocks (-1.5)
After a 9-2 season in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Jacksonville State made the leap to FBS as a member of Conference USA. Their first game is also a conference tilt with UTEP, who narrowly missed out on going to a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004-05. Head coach Dana Dimel has done an excellent job with this team and given how bare the cupboard was.
The Gamecocks are led by former Michigan and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez as they sail off into I-A waters with a lot of depth questions. Unfortunately, QB Zion Webb, who starred in the spring game, is still waiting to see whether or not the NCAA will grant him a seventh season of eligibility.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Vanderbilt Commodores (-18.5)
For the fifth straight (normal) season, Hawaii plays in Week 0. After losing 63-10 to Vanderbilt in Honolulu last season, they’ll look for revenge in Nashville this time around. That win was the catalyst for one of Vandy’s best seasons in several years, as they beat Kentucky on the road and also knocked off Florida at home. With Hawaii and then Alabama A&M, Vanderbilt has a great chance to start 2-0 again and be one-third of the way to the team’s first bowl game since 2018.
Hawaii is very much back to its run-and-shoot roots with second-year head coach Timmy Chang, who also serves as the offensive coordinator. There are a lot of transfers into the program and the state’s strict COVID protocols are over, so there should be more buzz and optimism heading into this season, but this is the first of three tough games with a visit from Stanford and a trip to Oregon.