College Football Best Bets: USC, Notre Dame Headline Week 0 Picks

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
college football bets

The college football offseason is always long. This past one seemed longer yet with the very roots of this sport being ripped up and replanted in a new and corporate manner. But, on Saturday, all that heads to the back burner as CFB returns! While the most casual fans might stay away from this trimmed-down slate, us CFB punters know better. I’m very excited to share my collection of college football Week 0 best bets. These are wagers I have placed myself.

Navy vs. Notre Dame officially kicks us off at 2:30 p.m. ET. A full preview of that game will be on Saturday morning. FIU at Louisiana Tech bookends the weekend with a 9:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Sportsbooks already posted college football odds for Week 1 and beyond, numbers that are on the move.

College Football Week 0 Best Bets

Navy Vs. Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET

It’s the debut of Sam Hartman as Notre Dame QB and Gerad Parker as the offensive coordinator. Against a Navy defense that ranked dead last in pass EPA and early down success rate last season, it’s reasonable to expect the Irish come out through the air early. The Midshipmen return everyone in the secondary and they promoted from within for their new defensive coordinator (Brian Newberry is now the head coach). All that to say, there’s not much reason to believe Navy’s defense is vastly improved against the pass.

Navy has no real way to replicate Hartman at practice, nor the athletes to keep pace with ND’s offensive skill pieces. Their strength lies up front.

Conversely, Notre Dame can’t successfully replicate Navy’s option at practice. Historically, this rivalry produces a ton of points – look no further than last season’s 67-point showdown in which the Irish couldn’t run the football and had a markedly worse QB. However, the market has not agreed on this assessment midweek.

Brett’s bet: Notre Dame 1H -10.5 (-110), Over 50 points (-110)
Best available number: ,

San Jose State at USC, 8:00 p.m. ET

The over in this matchup has been one of the most bet-up numbers on the board this week. The logic is there – Caleb Williams & Co. should have no trouble moving the football on San Jose State’s defense and USC has genuine defensive questions of their own. However, with a spread north of four touchdowns, there’s also genuine concern about the Trojans not needing to play more than three quarters of football.

To insure against that, I’d much rather look to San Jose State’s team total. That number was featured at 16.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook. While USC’s defensive talent improved thanks to another stud transfer class, Alex Grinch features as the defensive coordinator. Chevan Cordeiro returns at QB for the Spartans, but top target Justin Lockhart missed last week’s practice; his health is worth monitoring for Saturday. The talent on SJSU’s offense is there enough to put two touchdowns and another field goal on the board.

Brett’s bet: Over San Jose State 16.5 team points (-122)
Best available number: Over 17.5 (-110)

Bonus: Ohio at San Diego State

I’ll be up front about this one: sharing the number I have on Ohio in this game isn’t actionable. It’s a bet I shared in’s free sports betting Discord when I played it and that number is long gone.

But there’s still actionable info on this game. Following the news that star QB Kurtis Rourke would play, the number on the Bobcats crashed – perhaps a little too far. Kelley Ford’s KFord Ratings make San Diego State a -4 favorite and TheLines’ aggregate ratings favor the Aztecs by -4.5. Since -3 represents a key betting figure in football, SDSU backers may feel comfortable playing them at home.

Related: Looking For A College Football Week 0 Upset?

College Football Week 0 Prop Bets

Note: Props on college football games are not available in every state that offers CFB game betting. Find out whether college football prop betting is legal in your state here.

Navy RB Daba Fofana: Anytime TD Scorer +210

The word is that new OC Grant Chestnut would be “modernizing” the Navy offense. During his time at Kennesaw State, Chestnut ran the option and finished top-three in rushing among FCS teams multiple years running. Fofana will be the primary feature in Navy’s offense, especially with multiple QBs facing injuries or ineligibility. Last season, the 5-foot-8 wrecking ball rushed for 8.9 yards per carry and found the end zone.

That he’s the eighth shortest in odds to score a touchdown in this game is the allure of this bet.

Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman O237.5 Passing Yards, -115

As mentioned, nobody in the country was worse at preventing opposing passing attacks than Navy last year. Most of those players return and the strength of the Midshipmen defense is in their front seven. With a new OC – one that was widely viewed as a disappointing hire – I expect Notre Dame to test Navy through the air first. Hartman is the best QB to suit up for the Irish in some time and the best passer since Brady Quinn (perhaps longer).

The biggest concern with this bet should be whether Hartman sits out most of the second half.

USC QB Caleb Williams O3.5 Passing TDs, +130

The returning Heisman winner comes out against a San Jose State defense that lost a majority of its talent from last season. Per Phil Steele’s preseason numbers, the Spartans project to be the third-worst passing defense in the Mountain West. Though three of four starters return in their secondary, SJSU is vastly out-manned. USC features the second-best group of receivers behind Ohio State this season, led by Dorian Singer and Mario Williams.

Even if Williams sits out the entire fourth quarter, four touchdowns is in the cards.

Watch! TheLines College Football Podcast: Week 0 Slate