College Football Odds, Picks for Week 0: The Early Bet to Make for Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt
Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Head coach Timmy Chang (left) and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
Take a deep breath. Exhale. Can you feel it? College football is here.
With college football returning, we all know the market moves a lot over the course of the week. Money pours in all over the place from the time lines open until kickoff on Saturday. Week 0 is no exception.
Like any other sport, it's paramount to get the best price possible when betting on college football.
For example, a -6.5 favorite could move to -7.5 on Saturday morning, and then you run the risk of that team winning by one of the most likely outcomes — a seven-point victory — and you just lost your bet.
It could have all been avoided if the bet was locked in at -6.5 on Monday morning.
I'm here to help you navigate the market by providing a few lines I'm buying right now — or other lines that I'm waiting to buy later in the week.
The hope for this piece is to beat the market, get the best price possible, and in the long run, save you some money with closing line value. To do that, we'll utilize our Action Network PRO projections, ESPN's SP+ and my own projections to create a consensus.
You hear all the time, "Process over results." The best way to know if the process is working is by closing line value (CLV), meaning how many points did you beat the closing line by? Well, I'm here to help you hopefully get the most CLV possible early on in the week so you're sitting in a great position by the time we reach Saturday.
Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt Odds
Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt Projections
|Vanderbilt -13.1||Vanderbilt -7.1||Vanderbilt -14.6|
Last season, Hawaii got dismantled by Vanderbilt in the opener, 63-10, in Timmy Chang's first game as head coach on the island. While that game was terrible for the Rainbow Warriors, we have to remember that things were vastly different then than they are now.
Heading into last season, Hawaii was implementing a new system with an entirely new offense and only a handful of starters with a lot of underclassmen.
Toward the end of 2022, Chang installed some run-and-shoot concepts after Hawaii didn't record a touchdown pass through the first four games of the season.
Quarterback Brayden Schager was brutal at the beginning of the season but improved as the year went along. As you can see below, his final two games of the season were two of his best.
Image via PFF.
Now, Schager has a full offseason in the run and shoot and should see a lot of progression.
What will also help is that Hawaii is bringing back 110 starts across its offensive line, so he should have more time to throw.
However, it's not all on Schager's shoulders to carry the offense because Hawaii can run the football as well. The Rainbow Warriors ranked 19th in the country in Offensive Line Yards and 26th in Rushing Success Rate last season.
They do lose their top back in Dedrick Parsons, but they bring back 5-foot-7 scat back Tylan Hines, who averaged a whopping 7.6 yards per carry last year.
Wishing #CollegeFootball Week 0 would get here as quickly as @HawaiiFootball running back Tylan Hines got through the Utah State defense for this touchdown back in November 🌈pic.twitter.com/abVbu3jqYn
— College Football Network (@CFN365) June 28, 2023
Hawaii's defense was abysmal last season in almost every single category, but it had a brand-new starter at almost every single position so you really couldn't expect much from the unit as a whole.
This season, Hawaii returns nine starters on defense, including five of its top six tacklers. Chang also went into the portal and grabbed three defensive linemen from Power 5 schools, so Hawaii will be much improved in its front seven.
Vanderbilt pulled off a couple of key upsets over Kentucky and Florida toward the end of 2022. However, both of those were with Mike Wright starting at quarterback rather than AJ Swann.
Wright was a dynamic runner with the ball and honestly was the better quarterback last season. With Wright off to Mississippi State, Swann will be the starter this season.
He played solid ball in a limited sample size, but things get really bad when he's forced to throw the ball a lot.
Image via PFF.
Swann may have thrown only two interceptions, but 13 turnover-worthy plays is frighteningly bad for a quarterback who attempted just 201 passes.
So, that means Vanderbilt will have to rely on its ground game. Well, the Commodores' top rusher from last season, Ryan Davis, is gone after touting the rock a whopping 232 times, and they'll likely start a true freshman in the opener.
This is a Vanderbilt rushing attack that finished 97th in Rushing Success Rate and 87th in EPA/Rush, so it's highly unlikely it's going to dominate an improved Hawaii front seven.
Clark Lea's specialty is defense, but there was nothing special about the Vanderbilt D last season. The 'Dores finished the year 127th in EPA/Play Allowed and gave up 6.8 yards per play, which was the third-highest average allowed in college football.
They return eight starters but lost star linebacker Anfernee Orji, who ranked second in the SEC with 108 tackles last season. Nobody else on Vanderbilt had over 60 tackles, and Lea didn't do much in the transfer portal or recruiting, so how is one of the nation's worst going to drastically improve?
All three projection models are showing value on the Rainbow Warriors, so I would grab them at +17. I would imagine this line moves toward them as we get closer to kickoff.
What is QuickSlip?
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.