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BETTING

Week 0 NCAA College Football Best Bets: Notre Dame Continues to Dominate Against Navy


College football returns with a light schedule this Saturday, and the appetizer leading into next week includes a trio of matchups that fit our best bet criteria.

Picks Summary


Navy Midshipmen vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Saturday, August 26, 2023 – 02:30 PM EDT at Aviva Stadium


Will the third time be the charm for Navy against Notre Dame in Ireland? The old rivals are getting together for the third time in Dublin where the Fighting Irish have beaten the Midshipmen twice before, and reports are 35,000-40,000 fans from the US are traveling to the Emerald Isle for the 94th meeting between the schools.

Irish Eyes Will Be Smiling

As the case has been for as long as I can remember – and I’m old – the Fighting Irish are carrying the chalk as nearly 3-TD favorites.

Navy almost pulled off the upset last year in Baltimore, where Notre Dame was favored by 14. The Fighting Irish built a huge lead before the Midshipmen found holes to run through in the second half, coming up just short in the 35-32 final.

As much as my heart is with the Navy, it won’t be nearly as close this time. The Midshipmen are in transition under new head coach Brian Newberry, who promises more of an aerial show than Navy teams in the past.

But it will be the aerial show put on by Sam Hartman, the transfer from Wake Forest, that ends up being the story in this matchup. Notre Dame by 30.

NCAAF Pick: Notre Dame -20½ (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook


Ohio Bobcats vs. San Diego State Aztecs

Saturday, August 26, 2023 – 07:00 PM EDT at Snapdragon Stadium


Both Ohio and San Diego State have high hopes in their respective conferences, the MAC and Mountain West, and their season opener should be an entertaining clash between Group of 5 schools… entertaining as long as you aren’t looking for a ton of points to pile up.

Can Bobcats Improve Pass Defense?

San Diego State is favored by a field goal at most shops, with the total down on the low end of Week 0 matchups at 49-50.

There is a lot to like about the Bobcats this year, beginning with QB Kurtis Rourke. He’s made a very quick recovery from a torn ACL late in 2022, and the MAC Offensive Player of the Year has a solid complement of backs and receivers.

One of the biggest tasks for head coach Tim Albin and DC Spence Nowinsky will be improving a pass defense that ranked at the very bottom of the MAC a year ago. There are a half-dozen starters returning to the stop unit, however, and the DBs should be okay against the Aztecs who prefer to run instead of pass.

SDSU Brings in New OC Brady Hoke and his DC Kurt Mattix only have two starters back on defense, but the 2nd-teamers from last year did see a lot of action to help ease that pain.

Hoke has a new offensive coordinator in Ryan Lindley, and it could be a while before he and QB Jalen Mayden get on the same page with the passing game. That should lead to the Aztecs keeping things simple and trying to work the clock, which plays well with an ‘under’ bet.

NCAAF Pick: Under 49½ (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook


Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

Saturday, August 26, 2023 – 07:30 PM EDT at FirstBank Stadium


After hosting Vanderbilt to begin last season, and getting thoroughly waxed by the Commodores, Hawaii gets to travel to Nashville with hopes of exacting a little revenge and giving the folks back home something to cheer following the devastating fires that swept through Maui to get 2023 off on a winning note.

Year 2 Under Chang Should See Improvement

Perhaps a Hollywood script would play out that way for the Rainbow Warriors, but this isn’t make-believe, and while the Commodores are one of the weaker SEC teams, they’re still head-&-shoulders above Hawaii.

Vanderbilt also had one of the weaker SEC squads last year when it went to Hawaii and returned with a 63-10 blowout win as a mere 8-point favorite. The Commodores pushed the game past the total on their own thanks to 600 yards of offense, 400 of that on the ground, and it was an embarrassing debut for head coach Timmy Chang at his alma mater.

The Warriors will be vastly improved from a 2022 team that was held together by baling wire and a prayer following a mass exodus on the roster. But they won’t be able to stay inside the number on this one.

Lea Turning Things Around at Vandy

Clark Lea enters his fourth season at his alma mater, and he’s worked wonders rebuilding a team that went 0-9 his first season. The Commodores have AJ Swann back under center, with an experienced line in front of him.

Against a Hawaii team we know loves to pass, one concern is an unproven secondary on the Vanderbilt side. The front 7 should make up for some of that, and the Commodores should eventually wear the Warriors down in the trenches.

NCAAF Pick: Vanderbilt -17 (-109) at Unibet


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