2023 College Football Week 9 predictions, best bets by Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica

“Bear Bets” are real wagers that Chris “The Bear” Fallica is actually making.

Week 9 of the college football season is here, and I’ve got plenty of plays I like this weekend.

As for betting on college football every week, 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 this week, I’ve got you covered.

On a side note, a new episode of my digital gambling show and podcast will be posted every Thursday. The college football-focused episodes — presented by Big Noon Kickoff — will be released on Thursdays, with the NFL-themed episodes dropping on Fridays.

Let’s have some fun and, hopefully, make some money. 

Here are my wagers for Week 8.

Last Week: 4-5 (Season: 25-31-1)

Saturday’s Games

Clemson @ NC State, 2 p.m. ET, The CW

After a promising offensive performance against Marshall with MJ Morris, the Wolfpack laid an egg against Duke. 

That’s been a common theme in ACC play, where NC State put 10 on the board vs. Louisville and slid by Virginia 24-21. 

I’m banking on Clemson not throwing in the towel after giving a game away against Miami last week, but my guess is Dabo Swinney can keep the fire lit by saying another 10-win season is in reach if they can win out. If so, it should be a long day for the NC State offense. 

PICK: NC State under 16.5 points scored (team total under)

No. 1 Georgia vs. Florida 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Georgia takes the field for the first time since Brock Bowers’ ankle surgery, and I’ll lay the points here against a Florida team that will find the going much tougher than it did battling a poor South Carolina defense two weeks ago. 

Expect Georgia’s defense to play inspired, knowing its offense is without its best player. Remember, the Bulldogs played their best game of the year when everyone felt they were threatened against Kentucky. That game wasn’t close, and I don’t think this one will be either, just as neither of the last two in this series has been, with those finals being 42-20 and 34-7. 

PICK: Georgia (-14.5) to win by more than 14.5 points 

 BYU @ No. 7 Texas 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Texas jumped out to a huge lead last week at Houston and then fell asleep. Now, with QB Quinn Ewers sidelined for a bit, backup Maalik Murphy will take over an offense that shouldn’t have trouble at home against a BYU team that allowed 44 in Fort Worth a couple of weeks ago. 

RELATED: Maalik Murphy set to start at QB for No. 7 Texas against BYU

Texas will be out to show it will be just fine while Ewers’ shoulder heals, and I expect the defense to shut down BYU’s offense and win very easily. 

PICK: Texas (-17.5) to win by more than 17.5 points 

Can Colorado turn things around on the road against UCLA?

Can Colorado turn things around on the road against UCLA?

Troy @ Texas State 7:00 p.m ET, ESPN+

This is my best bet for the week. 

Troy has allowed a total of 10 points in its last three games, but this will be a tougher task this week in San Marcos, where G.J. Kinne has the Bobcats on the verge of bowl eligibility behind an offense that’s averaging 38.3 PPG featuring former Auburn and LSU QB T.J. Finley. 

Texas State could easily be undefeated, as its two losses came to UTSA by seven and UL Lafayette by four. 

If Troy gets out with a win, it won’t be by more than one score. And that’s a big if. 

PICK: Texas State (+6) to lose by fewer than 6 points (or win outright)

No. 17 North Carolina @ Georgia Tech 8 p.m. ET, ACCN

Sometimes, when a team takes a first loss, and a shocking loss at that, it takes a little while to recover. I get the sense that might be the case here with UNC, which took one of the most improbable losses of the year last week, blowing a double-digit lead to Virginia as a 23-point favorite.

Look at last year as an example, where UNC stood 9-1, lost as a 21-point home favorite to these same Yellow Jackets and didn’t win another game. Tech has been very good in the underdog role, as I outline in the Bear Bytes. Brent Key has gotten Tech to overachieve, and this could be another example of that off a bad loss against Boston College. 

PICK: Georgia Tech (+12.5) to lose by fewer than 12.5 points (or win outright)

Cincinnati @ Oklahoma State  8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

The Bearcats have lost five straight since the upset win at Pittsburgh, and the defense hasn’t looked great. Oddly, its best performance came against undefeated Oklahoma, so go figure. 

It seemed Oklahoma State’s season was going south after it dropped consecutive games to Iowa State and South Alabama, but since then, the Cowboys have won three straight games as underdogs. 

I don’t like this spot here for OSU as a favorite, as it has the final Bedlam game next week in Stillwater against currently undefeated Oklahoma. This has look-ahead sirens flashing all over. 

PICK: Cincinnati (+7.5) to lose by fewer than 7.5 points (or win outright)

Purdue @ Nebraska 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1

I hate myself for betting this game, and I totally deserve whatever I get. But after laying double digits with Nebraska last week and seeing an offense incapable of throwing the ball, I have to take the short number with Purdue. 

While Purdue has injuries all over, at least the Boilermakers had a week off after being blown out by Ohio State and its defense has shown it can slow down bad offenses like Illinois and Iowa. 

PICK: Purdue (+2.5) to lose by fewer than 2.5 points (or win outright)

Tulane @ Rice 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2

There’s a bit of hype for Rice off a 42-10 road win at Tulsa last week. The Owls are throwing the ball around with JT Daniels and now get a ranked Tulane team at home. But this will be a tough ask against this Tulane offense, which can run with Makhi Hughes and Michael Pratt, who also has a bunch of targets in the passing game. 

I’ll take the Green Wave at the reduced number. 

PICK: Tulane (-10) to win by more than 10 points

Colorado @ No. 23 UCLA 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

OK, at this number, I’ll bite. 

CU is looking like a very public ‘dog, and those are the best ones to fade. Dante Moore’s turnover problems led Chip Kelly to make a change at the QB position and between the focus on not turning the ball over, a power running game and getting after the passer on the other side of the ball — well, that sounds like everything Colorado struggles with. 

CU slide continues. 

PICK: UCLA (-14.5) to win by more than 14.5 points

Joel Klatt breaks down the major Pac-12 showdown between Oregon and Utah

Joel Klatt breaks down the major Pac-12 showdown between Oregon and Utah


Kentucky +150
Miami OH +230 
Arizona +140
Texas State +180
Wisconsin +495
UL Lafayette +360 

Can Florida make it a game against No. 1 Georgia in The Swamp?

Can Florida make it a game against No. 1 Georgia in The Swamp?


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:

Virginia @ Miami 

Virginia is attempting to become the first team to win consecutive games, both coming on the road as an underdog of at least 18 points. Only one team has won consecutive games, regardless of site, as an underdog this big. In 2020, Maryland beat Minnesota as an 18-point dog at home and then went to Penn State the following week as a 27.5-point dog and won 35-19.

Miami has lost three of its last five games outright in which it has been a double-digit favorite vs. an FBS opponent. That includes a loss to Georgia Tech three weeks ago as a 19-point favorite.

Michigan State @ Minnesota

Minnesota has failed to cover five of its last six games as a favorite, losing two of them outright.

Clemson @ NC State

Clemson is 3-5 in its last eight games vs. Power 5 teams. The Tigers are also 5-6 in their last 11, which would be just about a full season. Their two wins this year have come over Syracuse and Wake, who are a combined 1-7 in the ACC. 

Clemson must win out, including its bowl game, to post a 13th-straight 10-win season.

Mississippi State @ Auburn

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the classic 2008 meeting in Starkville, won 3-2 by Auburn. State is seeking its third-straight win over the Tigers, something the Bulldogs haven’t accomplished since a four-game win streak from 1997-2000. 

Louisiana @ South Alabama 

In their last 12 games as an underdog against Sun Belt opposition, the Ragin’ Cajuns are 9-3 ATS with six outright wins. 

Oregon @ Utah

Utah has won 18 straight and 29 of 30 at home. The last time the Utes were a home dog was 2018, when they lost 21-7 to Washington as a 5-point ‘dog. 

Massachusetts @ Army

UMass and Army have to be happy to see each other on the schedule. UMass lost 63-0 at Penn State the last time it took the field, while Army has been shut out in each of its last two games, 19-0 by Troy and 62-0 by LSU. 

Purdue @ Nebraska 

Nebraska is seeking its first three-game Big Ten winning streak since 2016. Prior to stringing together consecutive wins vs. Illinois and Northwestern, the Huskers were 3-14 in their previous 17 Big Ten games. 

North Carolina @ Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech has covered nine of its last eleven as a ‘dog, winning six outright, including as a 19-point ’dog at Miami this year and as a 21.5-point ‘dog at Pitt and a 21-point ’dog at North Carolina last year.

Georgia vs. Florida 

Dating back to last year, teams ranked No. 1 are 2-11-1 ATS vs unranked teams (0-5-1 this year).

Washington @ Stanford

Dating back to 2021, Stanford has lost 10 straight to ranked opponents, not covering any of the 10 games. The average score of those ten games — 42-14. In three games this season vs. ranked teams, Stanford has been outscored 140-23. 

UNLV @ Fresno State

This is the first meeting of Mountain West teams 6-1 or better through seven games since 2010 when 9-0 TCU beat 8-0 Utah 47-7 in Salt Lake City.

Ohio State @ Wisconsin 

Each of the last five meetings between the Badgers and Buckeyes has been won by the favorite. The last upset in the series came in the 2014 Big Ten championship game when Ohio State beat Wisconsin 59-0 as a 4-point ‘dog. 

West Virginia @ UCF

The records mean nothing here as UCF is 3-4, 0-4 in the Big 12, but the Knights are 7-point home favorites over the 4-3 Mountaineers. 

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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