College Football Odds, Picks: The 3 Biggest Returning Production Mismatches in Week 0

College Football Odds, Picks: The 3 Biggest Returning Production Mismatches in Week 0 article feature image

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

There may be no other sport where returning experience is as critical from the start as college football.

This sport doesn't have a preseason, and spring games are downsized to two-hand touch with critical players often getting a pass.

In all other sports, an early-season loss isn't detrimental in the hunt for a championship. All games matter for selection to the College Football Playoff, so having experience in the first game of the season is paramount.

With the completion of post-spring TARP (Transferring Assets & Returning Production), we turn our attention to the Week 0 schedule.

Utilizing experience numbers in yards gained, tackles and Havoc will identify where teams should start off in form. Other teams may have new coaches and schemes with a low number of starters in-house, generally making them a decent fade candidate for the early portion of the season.

This article will focus on the first game for select teams in Week 0, specifying where experience is robust and where it may be deficient.

Navy vs. Notre Dame Odds

Saturday, Aug. 26
2:30 p.m. ET
Navy Odds
-115o / -105u
Notre Dame Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Mismatch: Navy Offense 77% · Notre Defense 49%

The big story for the Midshipmen is the promotion of defensive coordinator Brian Newberry to head coach. The former Kennesaw State coordinator has preached a change in philosophy, making physicality a focal point for both sides of the ball.

Not many changes are expected on the defensive side of the football, but a traditional triple option is expected to have a few tweaks under new offensive coordinator Grant Chesnut.

Love this Bunch Load Option Concept from Kennesaw State!

— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) November 11, 2022

Navy will amp up the physicality with the triple option from different formations with pulling linemen, but it will also implement more of a passing game. The Midshipmen ran the ball on 85% of snaps last season, struggling to convert in third-and-long scenarios.

Both Tai Lavatai and Xavier Arline return under center, leading an offense that returns 78% of offensive line snaps and 84% of rushing yards. If the new formations and personnel are adopted quickly by the roster, Navy will be tough for opposing teams to prepare for to start the season.

Notre Dame had a disastrous start to the Marcus Freeman era a year ago, starting with losses to Ohio State and Marshall. Many criticized a conservative offense that targeted a stable of running backs with a tight end threat in the passing game.

With an offense transitioning to a first-time play caller after coordinator Tommy Rees left for Alabama, the defense is expected to carry the water early in the season.

The Irish finished the 2022 season mid-FBS against the run, ranking 58th in Success Rate and 61st in Line Yards.

To Freeman's credit, Notre Dame was the third-best tackling team in the nation, but it now loses its best playmakers. The Irish return less than 35% of pressures and stops (defined by PFF as a successful tackle in regard to position on the field). The top three creators of pressure — Isaiah Foskey, Jayson Ademilola and Justin Ademilola — have all moved on from South Bend.

The market has certainly seen steam on the Irish in this Dublin opener. Action Network's power ratings make this a double-digit game, but more than a touchdown less with a favorable lean on Navy.

Look for Navy's experience on offense and the fresh faces in Notre Dame's defensive front seven to keep this game closer than the market predicts.

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Ohio vs. San Diego State Odds

Saturday, Aug. 26
7 p.m. ET
Ohio Odds
-110o / -110u
San Diego State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Mismatch: Ohio Offense 87% · San Diego State Defense 39%

For those who partake in weeknight MACtion, one of the best offenses returns at full strength to start the season on the West Coast. Quarterback Kurtis Rourke returns under center for Ohio after posting a 25:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and adding another four scores on the ground.

Rourke logged 16 runs over 10 yards, making the dual-threat signal-caller one of the most dangerous third-down quarterbacks in the MAC.

There won't be a lack of weapons either, as bruising back Sieh Bangura returns in the backfield while explosive receiver Sam Wiglusz looks to once again abuse cornerbacks and safeties.

Write about Kurtis Rourke and Sam Wiglusz and you will be rewarded with the first touchdown of the game@OhioFootball |

— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 1, 2022

While Ohio returns a massive amount of offensive experience, San Diego State will be looking for replacements on defense. The Aztecs' 3-3-5 loses plenty of counting stats in pressures, pass breakups and stops. Defensive tackle Jonah Tavai and edge Keshawn Banks are now with NFL teams, removing nearly half of the team's pressures.

The Action Network projection calls for San Diego State to be favored by nearly a touchdown. Although there's been minimal movement in the market, a projection of San Diego State -10 from SP+ is sure to get blind wagers down on the Aztecs.

Considering the advantages Ohio has on the offensive side of the ball, waiting for an inflated spread or taking an over is the look for this Week 0 showdown.

San Jose State vs. USC Odds

Saturday, Aug. 26
8 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
San Jose State Odds
-110o / -110u
USC Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Mismatch: USC Offense 77% · San Jose State Defense 35%

If there's a Week 0 game due for steam all the way through kickoff, it's USC's home opener.

Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams returns under center for the Trojans for one final season at the collegiate level before potentially becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Not only is Williams back, but the Trojans also return at least 60% of their receiving yards and offensive line snaps. USC ended 2022 ranked 10th in pass blocking and 25th in passing down explosives, and both are expected to continue this season.

The portal helped beef up both the offensive line and wide receiver positions in southern California.

Transfers Jarrett Kingston and Michael Tarquin add depth to a group that has the versatility to play all five positions up front. Williams also has a new pass-catcher in Dorian Singer, a transfer from Arizona who averages 2.2 yards per route run.

USC should hit the ground running — and passing — from the first snap.

The opposite could be said for the San Jose State defense.

Although Chevan Cordeiro returns under center on the offensive side of the ball, the defense returns just 35% of its experience. Specifically, just 29% of pass breakups and 19% of pressures return to the Spartans. Edge Viliami Fehoko accounted for 33% of all San Jose State pressures, but he now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

The 2022 version of the Spartans defense finished 73rd in tackling and 62nd in coverage, per PFF. Defensive coordinator Derrick Odum draws the impossible task of containing Williams with an arsenal of weapons, giving credence to the steam in the market.

Expect this number to hover around five touchdowns before kickoff.

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