College football is (almost) back! With Week 0 coming this Saturday we are bringing back this series where we take a look into the top games occurring outside of Fort Worth every week. With a smaller slate scheduled for this weekend, I will just be looking at the top 2 games happening this Saturday.
Nebraska (-13) vs. Northwestern - August 27th, 11:30 am Fox
With no top 25 teams in action yet, Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers take center stage in a game against Northwestern that will take place in Dublin, Ireland. College Gameday will be in attendance putting the spotlight firmly on what could be a make or break year for the Scott Frost era at Nebraska. After a tumultuous season in 2021 where Nebraska lost 9 games by single digits, they lost their starting quarterback, Adrian Martinez, as he transferred to Kansas State. To replace him, Frost brought in former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson to lead the offense. Thompson had an up and down year in Austin and will need to take a significant step forward to replace the production of Martinez. Nebraska also picked up former Frog DE Ochaun Mathis through the transfer portal. Mathis along with junior DE/LB Garrett Nelson headline a front 7 that should be a solid unit in 2022. Northwestern is coming off a tough year in 2021 where they went 3-9 with their only wins coming against Rutgers, Ohio, and Indiana State. The matchup to watch on Saturday will be Mathis and Nelson rushing against potential 2023 first round OT Peter Skoronski. If Northwestern wants to have a shot at pulling off the upset, Skoronski and the rest of the offensive line are going to have to dominate at the line of scrimmage and give returning RB, Evan Hull, room to run. Ryan Hillinski, their starting QB in 2021, returns after a very inconsistent season where he had more interceptions than TDs. Hillinksi will need to have a good game to keep up with Nebraska, as the Wildcat defense that struggled last year lost stud safety Brandon Joseph to the transfer portal this offseason.
My pick: Nebraska wins (-550) Nebraska covers (-13.0) full game over (49.5)
Vanderbilt (-8) at Hawaii - August 27th, 9:30 CBSSN
The nightcap this week takes place in Honolulu as the Commodores travel to Hawaii to play the Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii is coming off of a solid 6-7 season highlighted by an upset win over number 18 ranked Fresno State. The offseason was filled with turmoil for Hawaii as their head coach Todd Graham stepped down amid controversy surrounding his treatment of players. Many players transferred following this decision and among them was Chevan Cordeiro, their starting quarterback, who is now at San Jose State. Hawaii is yet to announce a starter for 2022 with returner Braden Schager battling transfers Joey Yellen and Cammen Cooper for the job. New head coach Timmy Chang will face a Vanderbilt team coming off of a 2-12 season in 2021. Vandy’s only wins came against Colorado State and Uconn with a combined margin of victory of 5 points. Vanderbilt’s starter at quarterback is Mike Wright who threw for over 1000 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions last year. Starting running back Re’mahn Davis also returns after two straight injury-filled years in 2020 and 2021. His last healthy year was a great one as he racked up over 900 yards on the ground and scored 8 rushing touchdowns in 2019. This game feels like one that will have all the late night theatrics one could hope for and it will be a very close game at the end.
My pick: Vanderbilt wins (-340) Hawaii covers (+8) full game over (54.0)