Week 0 College Football Predictions - Northwestern Have a Chance as Double-Digit Underdogs

Though light on marquee matchups, Week 0 College Football 2022 offers a sneak peek at some potential sleepers - and some betting value!

Week 0 College Football Best Bets: Recommended bets

Opportunity for a little bit of fun

With the start of the college football season skewing earlier every year, there are now enough games before Week 1 to justify the creation of a Week Zero. Week Zero kicks off this season on Saturday, August 27, with a slate of 11 games, five of which feature at least one power conference team. 

Though the lineup is noticeably light on heavyweights, it still features more than enough action to warrant our attention. Of course, since there are no preseason games in college football, information on each team is at a premium, placing extra value on early-season games. That’s doubly true of Week 0 College Football, which offers an even sneakier peek at various teams.

While still some way off, we've looked at our predictions for the CFP. Be sure to check out our picks there for more on each of the top teams. 

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College Football Predictions Week 0

Nebraska @ Northwestern

Saturday, August 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX

As a double-digit road favorite, Nebraska is getting a lot of respect for a team that’s gone 6-14 over the last two seasons. As an added challenge, head coach Scott Frost, undoubtedly on the hot seat heading into the season, had to replace quarterback Taylor Martinez, who left via the transfer portal. The good news is that Texas transfer Casey Thompson is ready to step in as the starter after gaining some valuable experience with the Longhorns last season. However, even after bringing in a slew of transfers, Nebraska has some lingering questions on defense.

Of course, their opponents, Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats, are trying to rebound from a rough 2021 campaign. Northwestern has now posted a 3-9 record for the second time in three years. Of course, the Wildcats have won at least half of their games in the other five seasons since 2015, including 10-win campaigns in 2015 and 2017 and 9-5 in 2018, and 7-2 in 2020.

On another positive note, the Wildcats return a veteran-laden defense that should be comparable to their 2020 unit, which allowed just 15.5 points per game. It must be said, though, that the Wildcats were atrocious offensively last year, and there’s no guarantee that quarterback Ryan Hilinksi can take a significant step forward. Nevertheless, look for the Wildcats to be strong defensively at home and keep this game close.

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UConn @ Utah State

Saturday, August 27 at 4:00 p.m. ET on FS1

The Huskies were downright embarrassing last year, going 1-11, with only two of those losses coming by fewer than ten points, and their only victory was a six-point squeaker against Yale. UConn couldn’t even beat Holy Cross at home! The bar for the Huskies is incredibly low, heading into 2022. 

Offering a bit of optimism is the arrival of quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson, who arrives via transfer from Penn State. But, outside of Roberson and a few transfers elsewhere, UConn is short on upperclassmen, experience, and talent.

That could make for a tough opener against Utah State. The Aggies are coming off an 11-3 season and are expected to be one of the nation’s best Group of Five teams. After leading an offense that averaged 32.6 points per game a year ago, quarterback Luke Bonner returns. He will see some turnover among the skill players around him due to graduation, but the Aggies brought in some transfers like Miami’s Gurvan Hall and Washington’s MJ Tafisi to fill those holes. 

Utah State also returns most of its starters from a solid defense that got better as the 2021 season went on, allowing more than 17 points just once in the Aggies’ final six games. That should allow the Aggies to better UConn on both sides of the ball and turn this game into a blowout.

Week 0 College Football Best Bets: Recommended Bet

Wyoming @ Illinois

Saturday, August 27 at 4:00 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network

Since he arrived from North Dakota State (where he built a Division II powerhouse), Craig Bohl has built a stable program at Wyoming, with the Cowboys going to a bowl game four times in six years. However, a season opener away from home against a Big Ten team is a big challenge for a team that scored just 17.5 points per game last year and is breaking in a new quarterback. The Cowboys were stout defensively last season and should hold their own again in 2022, but with some key losses, Wyoming’s ability to stop the run could be an issue in their opener.

If there’s one thing that Bret Bielema’s teams love to do, it’s run the ball! The Illini have mostly upperclassmen on the offensive line and have upgraded at quarterback with Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito. Meanwhile, an Illinois defense that took a big step forward in 2021, allowing 20 points or less in six of 12 games, returns some key pieces and should be solid again this year. At the very least, this unit should be able to handle a lackluster Wyoming offense and win by a comfortable margin.

Week 0 College Football Best Bets: Recommended Bet

Vanderbilt @ Hawai’i 

Saturday, August 27 at 10:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network

The Rainbow Warriors underwent a coaching change this offseason and some massive roster upheaval. Their new coach, Honolulu-born QB legend (2000-04) Timmy Chang, will lean heavily on transfers this season and needs a lot of those new faces, especially on defense, to hit the ground running. On that side of the ball, Hawai’i returns just one starter from 2021. Last year’s defense allowed 31.4 points per game, so some change was needed, though a bit of continuity would be nice. 

Though the Rainbow Warriors will be at home for this game, their 9,000-seat stadium is unlikely to create much of an advantage. Also working against Hawai’i here is the fact that their most significant advantage - long flights and time differences - is not really a factor in Week Zero. Consider: Nashville is six-hour ahead of Hawai’i, and Vanderbilt’s flight to the islands will take more than twelve hours. Amid a grueling regular season schedule, this can be brutal for mainland teams, particularly those from the Eastern U.S., like Vanderbilt. With no game before this one, Vandy can fly out earlier to adjust.

Speaking of Vandy, questions abound about the Commodores in Clark Lea’s second season at the helm. Things could (and often will) get ugly in SEC play, but Vandy put up a decent fight against some mid-level SEC foes in 2021. The Commodores do return some talent and are adding a solid recruiting class. That should be enough for a one-touchdown win over a Hawai’i team in chaos heading into the 2022 campaign.

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Conclusion 

There you have our week 0 college football predictions. Which teams will you be rooting for? If you're looking for more football content, be sure to read our guide: How To Bet on College Football, and visit our odds comparison tool to compare the latest odds.