Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Week Zero: The Wait is Over!
College football fans know that the time has arrived, and before we get the all-inclusive week one buffet of Labor Day kickoff games to hit overdrive, we are gifted with week zero. Yes, I said week ZERO – get with my lingo. A lot of you there may think I’m crazy, but week zero has been a fixture on the CFB calendar for over a decade now. It’s a pint-sized offering of college football that has you double-checking your calendar, and the seven-game slate this Saturday provides just enough intrigue to move your chips in to play to start the season before the masses. With two top 25 teams in action, a game in Ireland of all places, and my absolute favorite week zero school in action, you best believe there are winners on the board to scoop up before your friends even realize the college football season has begun.
Last season, I finished with an almost .500 record ATS overall, and a 24-21 finish in bowl season. Now, we start from scratch and put zeros on the win-loss tally…just in time for week zero CFB action:
Must Watch “Main Screen” Games
Navy vs #13 Notre Dame (-20.5) – 2:30 pm ET – What better place to kick off the season than Dublin, Ireland with a stadium full of Notre Dame fans that made the trip, and members of our armed forces joining them? Having just been to Dublin I saw firsthand that there’s already excitement for bringing American football to the country, so expect a rather boisterous crowd on hand. Marcus Freeman and the Irish have higher expectations this season and former Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman will make his starting debut for Notre Dame. I’m expecting a slow start and a big finish for the Irish in a home game away from home.
San Jose State @ #6 USC (-30.5) – 8 pm ET – The buzz is at enormous levels surrounding Lincoln Riley and the Trojans, who bring back Heisman Trophy Winner Caleb Williams as their starter. Everyone’s eyes are peeled to see if USC can win early and often and send Williams towards another Heisman campaign, and you know they’ll want to show out in game one against an under-matched opponent from in-state. This may not be the most competitive matchup but having the reigning Heisman winner on our screens a week early is a nice bonus.
Tier Two “Second Screen” Games
Hawaii @ Vanderbilt (-18) – 7:30 pm ET – If you know me or have consumed any ounce of my college football content you know how deep my love runs for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The best team nickname in college sports plays in the most beautiful setting, and they’re kicking off year two with Coach and Hawaii football legend Timmy Chang leading the way. Hawaii is a week zero regular in recent years, so if you add in the extra motivation of the devastation that has taken place on the island to this school and community, there’s no way I’m betting against the #braddahood.
Ohio @ San Diego State (-3.5) – 7 pm ET – A fascinating matchup out of a conference of teams that have only played each other once in 2018. That year it was Nathan Rourke at QB for the Bobcats, and now in 2023, it’s his younger brother Kurtis at QB for Ohio in this matchup. Kurtis is coming off a great 2022 campaign and this is a frisky spot for the road team Bobcats.
UTEP @ Jacksonville State (+1) – 5:30 pm ET – It’s Jacksonville State’s FBS debut at the Division 1-A level of ball, and they do give themselves a chance to win their first game ever at the new competition level in front of their home crowd. UTEP is coming off an underwhelming 5-7 campaign last season.
UMass @ New Mexico State (-8) – 7 pm ET – Appropriately listed at the bottom, and only included because all seven-week zero games can fit in this week’s preview. The UMass Minutemen are unquestionably one of the worst CFB teams in the land, this proves to be a strange spot on the road for them in the desert to start the year. This one is for degenerates only.
The “Tablet Game” Night Capper
FIU @ Louisiana Tech (-10) – 9 pm ET – A Conference USA tussle finishes off the week zero slate of action, and both teams need a full reboot after going 4-8 and 3-9 respectively. The point total is set high enough at 58.5 for some late-night fireworks, so it feels like a moment for the OVER to cash in August.
Week 0 Plays To Watch
Notre Dame -20.5 – It probably starts off rocky but the Irish should find their footing in the second half
Hawaii +18 – It’s going to be easy to back an extremely motivated group of athletes playing for their homeland – the Rainbow Warriors should put up a valiant effort on the road.
Ohio +3.5 – Have a funny feeling this game could be a doozy to watch and goes back and forth to the wire.
La Tech -10 – If you’re entertaining some nightcap action, the over is tempting at 58 points as well…
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