“Bear Bets” are real wagers that Chris “The Bear” Fallica is actually making.
Week 3 of the college football season is here, and I anticipate several underdogs barking this weekend.
A new episode of my digital show and podcast will be posted Thursday! Just as a reminder, college football-focused episodes — presented by Big Noon Kickoff — will be released on Thursdays, with an NFL-themed episode dropping on Fridays.
As for betting on the weekly slate, I will share my best bets and gambling nuggets (Bear Bytes) with you throughout the season in this space. So, if you are looking to throw a few bucks down on the big games, I’ve got you covered.
Let’s have some fun and, hopefully, make some money.
Here are my favorite wagers for Week 3.
Last week: 2-5 (4-8 season)
(All times ET Saturday)
No. 7 Penn State at Illinois (noon, FOX and FOX Sports App)
There isn’t much on paper to like about Illinois’ first two games. The Illini were very fortunate to beat Toledo and were never in the game at Kansas, as it was 28-7 at the half and 34-7 in the third quarter.
It was expected Illinois’ defense might take a step back this year, and it has. But conference road games can be tricky, especially against teams coming off a poor performance.
This will be Drew Allar’s first road start, and the Nittany Lions as a whole have had trouble lately with their first road game of the season — last year, it needed some help from Purdue coach Jeff Brohm in a 35-31 comeback win against the Boilermakers. In 2021, it beat a down Wisconsin team by six points and lost at Indiana in overtime in 2020.
Penn State is better and should win, but I expect Illinois to play its best game of the season here. Is it enough to hang in there? We’ll find out.
PICK: Illinois (+15) to lose by fewer than 15 points (or win outright)
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Iowa State at Ohio, noon, ESPNU
Both teams appear to have offensive problems. The Cyclones managed just 250 yards in the opener vs. Northern Iowa, then came back with just 290 in the loss to Iowa, which also featured a pick-six.
Quarterback Kurtis Rourke should continue to improve after being hurt at San Diego State and then returning last week in the upset win over FAU.
This is a rare chance for a MAC team to host a Power 5 opponent, and the Bobcats’ defense has looked good vs. the Aztecs and Owls. Good enough where it continues Iowa State’s offensive struggles and puts itself in a great position to win outright.
PICK: Ohio (+3) to lose by fewer than 3 points (or win outright)
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Syracuse at Purdue, 7:30 p.m., NBC
I’m not sure why the Boilermakers are a home ‘dog here. Purdue probably should be 2-0, and is Syracuse’s 48-7 win over Western Michigan, one of the worst teams in the MAC, that big of a deal?
I like Garrett Shrader, but I would think Purdue coach Ryan Walters should be able to draw something up to slow the Orange QB. Will Syracuse be able to do the same against Hudson Card?
This just feels and looks like one of those games where people are seeing Syracuse’s scoring margin and assuming the Orange are better than they probably are. I’ll take the short home ‘dog.
PICK: Purdue (+2.5) to lose by fewer than 2.5 points (or win outright)
Louisiana-Monroe at Texas A&M, 4 p.m., SEC
Normally, I’d expect a team coming home off an upset loss taking on a bad team as a huge favorite to just sleepwalk, especially with a conference game on tap against Auburn next week. But the circumstances here are a little different.
The Aggies were sloppy last week against the Miami Hurricanes, and the defense allowed 48 points. Those things will absolutely be cleaned up, and Bobby Petrino’s offense should score at will on the Warhawks.
A shutout is very much in the cards as well, being that ULM scored just 17 on Army and 24 vs. Lamar.
PICK: Texas A&M (-36) to win by more than 36 points
UNDERDOGS TO PLAY ON THE MONEYLINE
Virginia Tech +210 (at Rutgers)
Florida +200 (vs. Tennessee)
Now it’s time to have some fun with my “Bear Bytes.”
These little “bytes,” as I call them, are just nuggets that give you some entertaining talking points to pull from as you watch the football festivities with friends and family or banter with your co-workers at the water cooler.
Here are the biggest nuggets that stuck out to me while doing my research:
Fifteen of the 23 ranked teams playing this week are either facing an FCS opponent and/or favored by at least 24 points. The only ranked teams favored by seven points or fewer are Kansas State at Missouri and Tennessee at Florida.
Iowa State at Ohio
Iowa State has had 26 games with a spread between -4 and +4 under Matt Campbell. The Cyclones are 6-20 in those games, with losses in each of the last seven and 10 of the last 11. Fifteen of the 20 losses came by seven points or fewer, 10 by four or fewer and eight by a FG or fewer.
Penn State at Illinois
Penn State has covered each of the last four and six of the last seven games in which it has been a road favorite. Included in that are all four games it has been a double-digit favorite.
Colorado vs. Colorado State
Colorado hasn’t been this big a favorite against an FBS team since 2018, when the Buffs were a 25.5-point favorite vs. Oregon State and lost the game outright to the Beavers, 41-34.
Clemson vs. FAU
Since the start of the 2021 season, Clemson has been a double-digit favorite 16 times. The Tigers are 5-11 ATS in those games.
Virginia Tech at Rutgers
Virginia Tech has lost each of its last six non-conference games vs. Power Five opponents despite each of the games having a spread of six points or fewer. Tech’s last non-conference P5 win came vs. West Virginia in 2017. Tech is a seven-point underdog against Rutgers this week.
Georgia vs. South Carolina
Georgia has outscored South Carolina 88-20 in the two meetings since Shane Beamer became head coach. Last year, UGA won 48-7 as a 25-point favorite, and in 2021, UGA won 40-13 as a 31.5-point favorite.
Tennessee at Florida
The favorite has won each of the last seven meetings between these two teams. The last upset in the series came in 2015 when Tennessee lost at Florida as a one-point favorite. The last time a favorite of more than a FG lost outright came in 2003 when the Gators lost at home to the Vols.
Missouri vs. Kansas State
Missouri has won three of its last four games as a home underdog. The lone loss in that span was a 26-22 loss to Georgia as a 30.5-point dog.
Alabama at South Florida
In 11 games as a 30-point favorite since 2019, Alabama has allowed an average of 4.3 PPG.
Chris “The Bear” Fallica has covered sports for nearly three decades. While college football has been his focus, he also enjoys the NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL and Horse Racing, with an “occasional” wager on such events. Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished in the Top 10 of the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He’s a multiple-time qualifier for the NHC Handicapping Championship. Remember, “The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!” Follow him on Twitter @chrisfallica.
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