For the second year in a row, Week 0 was kind to the ol' bank account.
Granted, it did not come easy. After a shaky 0-2 start last Saturday, our picks went 3-0 the rest of the way. And just like that, we're off and running after a winning week.
Successfully picking college football games against the spread is once again the name of the game this season. No matter the result, the final tally will always be accounted for in Locks of the Week—each week throughout the year.
With so many fascinating games to select from in Week 1 and so much curiosity looming, this coming weekend is ripe with possibility.
Before we get to the Week 1 picks, however, we must first be held accountable for what went right and wrong with last week.
The Good: Nevada vs. New Mexico State (Under 50.5): When you bet unders, you never feel quite comfortable. This one, however, felt pretty cozy throughout. The two teams combined to score 35 points, and it was never in doubt. Good work, everyone.
The Bad: Nebraska (-13) vs. Northwestern: Dreadful. Horrible. Embarrassing. I thought Nebraska would be a different team with a new quarterback and new offensive coordinator, and I felt even better after the first drive. Well, that was wrong. An outright loss as a nearly two-touchdown favorite is never optimal.
Here are our selections for college football's true opening weekend. As always, we aim for perfection.
All odds courtesy of DraftKings and accurate as of Wednesday.
Purdue (+3.5) vs. Penn State
I won't sugarcoat it for you, Penn State. This is a diabolical place to start a football season.
Purdue, which has slayed plenty of football dragons in recent years, can also put up some points. Quarterback Aidan O'Connell threw for 500 yards twice last season, and he could be a hidden gem entering the fall.
Purdue beat Iowa and Michigan State by double digits at home last season. Both teams were ranked in the Top Five at the time.
Penn State started off its season 5-0, although the unblemished record quickly came undone. While starting QB Sean Clifford is very capable, he has plenty of new pieces around him. And again, doing so on the road won't be an easy task.
Purdue seems to thrive in these spots, and I believe it will once again. Week 1 kicks off on Thursday night with a bang.
Oregon vs. Georgia (Under 52.5)
This will not be an easy game for the new-look Bulldogs. After watching 15 players hear their names called in the NFL draft, there is an abundance of new faces—albeit ones loaded with potential—that will see the field against Oregon.
To be clear, Georgia is still an exceptional team. Kirby Smart's superb recruiting will pay dividends immediately, but Oregon's defense should be one of the best in all of football. (And this is the right time to play Georgia.)
I have concerns about Stetson Bennett, even after his brilliance against Alabama in the second half of the national championship. I also have concerns about Bo Nix, Oregon's likely new starting QB.
All of this points us to a cozy under bet, which did us well in Week 0. Let's ride the wave once more.
Arkansas (-6.5) vs. Cincinnati
The Bearcats were a glorious story last year. Seriously, kudos to Cincinnati for cracking the playoff. What a run it was.
With that fully acknowledged, that superb team lost an abundance of key contributors. Nine players were drafted by NFL teams this spring. This included the team's starting quarterback, starting running back, best wideout, two best cornerbacks and other key members of a great defense. Yikes.
At this moment in time, Cincinnati cannot replace these departures in the way Alabama or Georgia can. That is not a knock, by the way. Very few programs can.
Arkansas catches the Bearcats at the right time. The Razorbacks are talented, well coached and in a position to build upon a strong finish to last season. The highlight is QB KJ Jefferson, who should get better this year with more seasoning.
The Hogs were a tough opponent last year, and they will stay a tough opponent at home against a really good coach.
Hogs by double digits.
Mississippi State (-16) vs. Memphis
Full transparency: I bet Mississippi State at -14 earlier in the week, with a hunch the line would keep rising. Fuller transparency: I still like the Bulldogs in this spot.
This was a team that had some moments last year. The bowl game loss against Texas Tech was not one of those moments, though the Bulldogs beat NC State, Texas A&M, Auburn and Kentucky in 2021.
Quarterback Will Rogers is back, which is very good news for Mike Leach. Rogers threw for 4,739 yards with 36 touchdowns last season. Although he lost some of his top targets, I don't expect him to regress. And the defense, which held up largely well, should be perfectly fine for a game like this.
Memphis topped Mississippi State last season, but it did so at home. While I really like Memphis QB Seth Henigan, he'll also have a vastly different supporting cast.
The biggest factor? Home field. Starkville is a tricky place to win, and it will come into play here. Mississippi State opens the year with a convincing win against a solid program.
Appalachian State (+1.5) vs. North Carolina
The good news for North Carolina is that it will enter Week 1 at 1-0. A 56-24 win over Florida A&M in Week 0 started the season off right.
That result, however, is laced with intrigue. This game was tight in the first half, certainly much closer than many, including me, expected. Florida A&M was also reportedly without 25 players due to eligibility issues, which changed the scope of this game.
Flash forward one week, and the competition is about to drastically shift. While Appalachian State does not play in a Power Five conference, don't let that fool you. Quarterback Chase Brice is surrounded by talent, especially at running back and along the offensive line.
The location of this game is also an enormous factor. App State will play at home, which has been an enormous advantage over the past five years. It has rarely lost in this setting, and I envision the Mountaineers coming away victorious once again.
Other Games on the Card
Florida State (+3) vs. LSU: The Seminoles have their issues, but LSU has essentially had to rebuild its roster this offseason. With so many departures on the other sideline, Mike Norvell nails a key win for the first time since beating No. 5 UNC in 2020.
BYU (-12) at South Florida: I just don't believe South Florida has the talent to compete with BYU, even at home. I cannot wait to see BYU starting QB Jaren Hall put on a show.
Arizona (+6) at San Diego State: Yes, Arizona has been bad. But San Diego State is offensively challenged, and that could benefit the Wildcats. This game will be close and ugly, and Arizona keeps it tight enough.
Oregon State (-3) vs. Boise State: Do not sleep on the late-night game. I know that you won't. Oregon State has found offense and stability, and it can (and will) take it a step further with a win over Boise State at home.
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