College football picks, schedule: Predictions against the spread, odds for key Week 0 games to start 2023

Most of the 133 FBS programs won’t take the field for the first time until the 2023 college football season officially officially commences next week for Week 1. For 10.5% of college football’s top division, however, this season begins Saturday in Week 0 with games kicking off as far East as Dublin, Ireland, to as far West as Los Angeles. Since games are scattered across six time zones, there will be plenty to watch from early in the day into late at night.

No. 13 Notre Dame meets Navy in that aforementioned Ireland game, and there’s no doubt that stands as the highlight entering Saturday, primarily due to the spectacle but also because there are no games between Power Five opponents in Week 0. The Fighting Irish are looking to soar to new heights with Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman under center, while the Midshipmen are hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 4-8 record last season with new coach Brian Newberry taking the helm. Then in the biggest primetime game, reigning Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams leads No. 6 USC against San Jose State at home. 

And don’t forget about the games in between. Jacksonville State, one of two new FBS teams along with Sam Houston, kicks off a new era against Conference USA opponent UTEP. 

While winning is all that matters for the standings, we care about how these games will shake out from an odds standpoint. Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day for college football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for the best of the seven games in Week 0.

Odds via SportsLine consensus | All times Eastern

8 p.m. | Pac-12 Network, fubo (Try for free) — USC’s offense is going to finish the season as one of the best units in college football. The defense, on the other hand, has major question marks and San Jose State will be a tough opening test. Spartans quarterback Chevan Cordeiro will be in the thick of the Mountain West Player of the Year race and could give the Trojans defense problems. USC scored 66 points in last season’s opener against Rice and then 45 against a fellow Mountain West opponent in Fresno State. If you like a lot of points and two high-powered West Coast offenses, this is the game for you to watch in Week 0. Pick: Over 66.5 — Cameron Salerno

Don’t miss these games!

UTEP at Jacksonville State

Date: Saturday, Aug. 26 | Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium — Jacksonville, Alabama
TV: CBS Sports Network [Channel finder
Live stream: | Mobile: CBS Sports App
Spread: UTEP -1 | Will the Miners cover? Check out SportsLine’s Week 0 projections here

FIU at Louisiana Tech

Date: Saturday, Aug. 26 | Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Joe Aillet Stadium — Ruston, Louisiana 
TV: CBS Sports Network [Channel finder
Live stream: | Mobile: CBS Sports App
Spread: Louisiana Tech -11 | Will the Bulldogs cover? Check out SportsLine’s Week 0 projections here

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 0? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $2,500 in profit over the past seven seasons — and find out.

7 p.m. | ESPN, fubo (Try for free) — I do not understand why this spread isn’t larger. When it was initially posted, the Aggies were 9.5-point favorites, but it got bet down to as small as a touchdown, which is where I jumped on it. Now, it’s moved to 6.5 points, which suggests plenty of others feel the same way I do. It’s not that the Aggies are a juggernaut — they are not — but they did go 7-6 last season and reached their first bowl game since 2017. Jerry Kill teams aren’t exciting but are well-coached and don’t beat themselves. UMass is a team that doesn’t need to beat itself because its opponents don’t usually need the help. The Minutemen are 3-37 since the start of the 2019 season and only 13-27 ATS. That includes a 12-25 ATS mark as an underdog and 6-17 as a road dog, losing by an average of 33.7 points per game. Pick: New Mexico State -6.5 — Tom Fornelli

2:30 p.m. | NBC, fubo (Try for free) — Week 0 is a weird time when weird things happen. This game being played overseas increases that weird factor tenfold. For example, Northwestern picked up its only win last year in Dublin, Ireland … in Week 0 … against a Nebraska team that was a 12.5-point favorite. I’m not predicting that Navy will take this one outright; in fact, Notre Dame will win by at least a couple scores. Still, given this game’s circumstances and Notre Dame’s general inability to dominate perceived weaker competition last season, a spread with a hook that sits at more than 20 points is a lot to cover. Prediction: Navy +20.5 — Will Backus


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