Welcome Back College Football; Here Are Your Week 0 Game Picks
SALT LAKE CITY – The college football season is back! With one of the best times of the year upon us again, I’m going to roll out a new feature each week here on KSL Sports, weekly college football picks.
I will give you my predictions on all of the local games involving teams here in Utah, along with the top matchups around the nation. Look for this every Thursday from now on in the season.
College Football Picks – Week 0
College Football begins with Week 0 coming up on Saturday, August 28th. I’m not going to lie; there are some intriguing matchups here. Let’s dive in.
There’s one team from the state of Utah in action this week; it’s the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
Southern Utah at San Jose State
8 p.m. (MT) on CBS Sports Network
Only 140 days have passed since Southern Utah last played a game. The Thunderbirds participated in the FCS spring season, finishing with a 1-5 record. However, they’ve got a difficult task in front of them in facing the defending Mountain West Conference champion, San Jose State Spartans.
SJSU has a good offense led by former Texas A&M and Arkansas QB Nick Starkel. SUU is no match for a Spartans squad looking for their first back-to-back winning season since 1992.
The Pick: San Jose State
Nebraska at Illinois
11 a.m. (MT) on FOX
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is in a make-or-break year. He has a new boss to answer to in former Cornhusker great Trev Alberts as the new AD. It doesn’t help that the NCAA is investigating him for unauthorized practices amidst the pandemic. He has a tough test in front of him to open the 2021 season against an Illinois program that hired former Wisconsin/Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema knows the Big Ten landscape. I’m calling for an upset in Bielema’s debut.
The Pick: Illinois
UConn at Fresno State
Noon on CBS Sports Network
The New York Times defending national champions are in action on the road against Fresno State. Yes, you read that right. The NYT crowned UConn last season their National Champs because they didn’t play any games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the Huskies’ first year as an Independent, and it’s expected to be tough sledding for the Huskies. It’s crazy to think that just 10 years ago, they were a program considered for the Big 12. Those times are long gone.
The Pick: Fresno State
Hawaii at UCLA
1:30 p.m. on ESPN
This is my game of the week in Week 0. Year four for Chip Kelly at UCLA has the makings to be a very good team, a team that I believe could crack into the top three of the Pac-12 South. They have a tough schedule. But this is one of those games against a Hawaii program, coached by a puzzling retread in Todd Graham, that they should roll.
QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson has the potential to make a meteoric rise in college football similar to what Zach Wilson did a season ago at BYU.
Chip Kelly opens up 1-0 for the first time in his UCLA career.
The Pick: UCLA
UTEP at New Mexico State
7:30 p.m. on FloFootball.com
I feel pretty confident this will be the last time I mention UTEP or New Mexico in my weekly picks article this season. But it’s week 0, so why not? The “Battle of I-10” is a matchup of two programs that have been a mess the last three years. Between the two of them, they’ve combined for 11 wins total since 2018.
New Mexico State played a two-game spring season earlier this year and nearly lost to Dixie State. This might be one of the only times UTEP can win a game this season. They will have to capitalize.
The Pick: UTEP
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.