Week 0 Odds Movement: Early Money On Illinois and Fresno State, plus the UCLA-Hawaii total
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It’s officially prep week in college football.
Saturday’s Week 0 offers a nice tune-up for bettors before the rest of the nation hits the field the first weekend in September.
Although it’s still fairly early in the betting cycle, four games have already seen some movement.
Let’s dive into the numbers.
Nebraska @ Illinois
Open: Nebraska -11.5 (-109)
Current: Nebraska -7 (-105)
The home dog is garnering some support at DraftKings, which opened at Nebraska -11.5 back in the spring.
The Cornhuskers are down to seven-point chalk around the marketplace, with a couple 6.5’s available.
Our own Brett McMurphy reported last week that Nebraska and head coach Scott Frost are under investigation by the NCAA for improper use of analysts last season.
Although the distraction impacts the road favorite, the majority of Illinois money came prior to the news; a couple of shops moved off from -7 to -6.5 last week, while others held firm.
Nebraska has totaled more than 600 yards in two of the last three meetings against Illinois, which is tied with Rutgers for the longest odds to win the Big Ten this season (+50000).
Hawaii @ UCLA
PointsBet opened the Hawaii-UCLA total 69.5 in early August. The number peaked at 70.5 early last week — right around when Bruins QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson returned to practice at full capacity — before dipping all the way down to the current total of 68.
The Bruins scored 34 points or more in five of their seven games last season. They played a pair of barn burners in their final two contests, combining with their opponents to put up 81 and 95 points, respectively.
Hawaii’s always a fun ‘over’ play, but can its offense match pace with an improved UCLA defense in Week 0?
UCLA returns 84% of last year’s production on that side of the ball. The unit was spotty on a down-to-down basis in 2020 but limited explosive plays, ranking No. 6 against the rush and No. 29 versus the pass nationally.
UTEP @ New Mexico State
It might not produce the ticket count of other games on the docket, but UTEP-New Mexico State has already seen some fluctuation.The Miners opened -7 at PointsBet and reached -6.5, but sharp money in early August shot the chalk up to as high as -9.5.The favorite was an easy side to grab early, especially after factoring the Aggies’ recent performances.
New Mexico State played two games this past spring. It was embarrassed by Tarleton State, 43-17, before squeaking out a 36-29 win over Dixie State two weeks later.
UTEP, meanwhile, had been a punching bag in head coach Dana Dimel’s first two seasons, compiling a 2-22 record. Last year, however, the program went 3-5 and lost two games by a combined six points.
The Miners could match their win total from last year in the first month, with additional games against Bethune-Cookman and New Mexico.
UConn @ Fresno State
Open: Fresno State -25.5
Current: Fresno State -27.5
How will a UConn program that hasn’t played a game in two years fare out of the gates? The early coin so far is on Fresno State, which is up from -25.5 to -27.5. The market has yet to hit -28.
The Huskies have won more than three games just once over the last seven seasons. Although they’ve had two years to get their ducks in a row, UConn, in the most UConn move of all time, still has yet to name a quarterback five days out from its opener. Talk about instilling confidence in your team.
Fresno State, meanwhile, went 3-3 in Year 1 of the Kalen DeBoer era last season, finishing with a +2.8 scoring margin. The Bulldogs are in excellent shape offensively heading into the year, returning the second-most skill position usage in the entire country, behind only Georgia State.