It’s hard to believe college football is back this weekend as the week 0 games kick off which will give college football fans an appetizer before next week’s full slate of games.
Week 0 games first started in 1983 when Nebraska took on Penn State in the kickoff classic, and typically there is one big week zero matchup. That wont be the case this year as there aren’t any top 25 teams taking the field until next week.
Let’s take a look a look at the college football action this weekend:
Top Matchups for Week 0:
Nebraska (-7) @ Illinois
The biggest matchup of the weekend is a Big 10 West matchup between Nebraska and Illinois in Champaign. Illinois hired former Wisconsin and Arkansas Coach Brett Bielema to take over for Lovie Smith, who went 17-39 in five seasons.
Bielema had some success at Wisconsin and Arkansas and should get the Illini back in the mix in the big ten once he has a couple of years of bringing his recruits to Illinois.
Scott Frost enters year four with a 30-26 record not quite yet on the hot seat, but with expectations that they will improve in 2021. Adrian Martinez enters the season as a 4 year starter and should be the difference maker in this matchup. Martinez started off his career in impressive fashion before having a rough 2019 and covid shortened 2020. Martinez was a 4 star recruit and has the talent to thrive in 2021 and we like the Huskers to be in the 8-4 to 9-3 range in 2021.
Pick: Nebraska (-7)
UConn @ Fresno State (-27.5)
UConn cancelled their 2020 season due to Covid and will strap up for the first time in 2 years as the travel to Fresno State. UConn went 2-10 in 2019 and will have a long flight out to Fresno to face the high octane offense from the Bulldogs.
Fresno went 3-3 in 2020 and returns QB Jake Haener, who averaged 336 ypg in 2020. Fresno State should roll with a blowout in this matchup as UConn will likely have plenty of rust from taking off 2020 and traveling from the east coast.
Pick: Fresno State (-27.5)
Utep (-10) @ New Mexico St
Utep went 3-5 in 2020 and were competitive vs. up and coming mid major programs like North Texas and Louisiana Tech.
Utep coach Dana Dimel has done a nice job making Utep competitive in a place that is difficult to recruit. Dimel made a big hire this offseason by bringing in Dave Warner from Michigan State to take over the offensive side of the ball. Werner had an impressive run at Michigan State and coached several successful NFL QB’s during his tenure (Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer).
Utep should put up plenty of points on New Mexico State who took off the 2020 season due to Covid-19.
Pick: UTEP (-10)
Hawaii @ UCLA (-17.5)
Chip Kelly enters year 5 at UCLA on the hot seat and need to get off to a hot start vs Hawaii. Kelly is 10-21 in his tenure but the Bruins did show signs of life in 2020.
UCLA was in most games they played last year as Kelly’s unique offensive system started to show signs of life. The season highlights were a big win at Arizona State and at home against Cal 34-10. They nearly knocked off a tough Stanford team the last week of the season but fell in 2 overtimes 47-48.
Hawaii has improved under former Arizona State coach Todd Graham and went 5-4 in his first year. Graham is known to spread the field and find mismatches on the offensive end but has had issues with his defenses in prior years. The Rainbows return QB Chevan Cordeiro who put up nearly 3000 combined yards in 9 games last season.
We like Todd Graham to keep this game close and beat the 17.5 spread, but UCLA’s talent and depth will take over in the second half to get the win.
Pick: Hawaii +17.5