College Football
2023 College Football Week 2 predictions, best bets by Chris 'The Bear' Fallica
College Football

2023 College Football Week 2 predictions, best bets by Chris 'The Bear' Fallica

Updated Sep. 9, 2023 2:34 p.m. ET

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

Week 2 of the college football season is here, and I like several underdogs to bark this weekend.

For those of you who have been asking if we will do weekly picks posts and have a digital show, the answer to both questions is a resounding YES!

The second episode of my digital show and podcast is up! 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 2.

Joel Klatt compares Deion Sanders to Nick Saban after Colorado win

Joel Klatt joins Colin Cowherd to talk about a packed weekend of college football, including the biggest headline: the Buffaloes' upset win over TCU.

Last week: 2-3

(All times ET Saturday)

No. 13 Oregon at Texas Tech, 7 p.m., FOX and FOX Sports App

The holy trinity of weirdness in college football is Laramie, Wyoming, plus Lubbock, Texas, plus Ruston, Louisiana.

After experiencing CFB weirdness in Laramie — weather delay, huge lead, overtime, +111 in total yards, +1 in turnovers — Texas Tech returns home to Lubbock to take on an Oregon team that put up 80 against an FCS side last week (Portland State).

Last week doesn’t mean the Red Raiders aren't the team many thought was a Big 12 sleeper, and let's not forget, we’ve seen Texas Tech fare very well in the role of home underdog.

Add in some extra motivation for quarterback Tyler Shough, who began his career with the Ducks, and there’s another intangible edge I like. 

The overreaction by many to last week’s results has the Red Raiders plus the points on my slate this week. 

PICK: Texas Tech (+6.5) to lose by fewer than 6.5 points (or win outright)

Auburn at California, 10:30 p.m., ESPN

This 6.5 number shocked me when I saw it. We really don’t know which result from last week is more indicative of what to expect from either of these teams. But I do know that Cal showed a legitimate offense for the first time in years last week under new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. 

I expect Sam Jackson V (upper-body injury) to be back at quarterback for the Golden Bears, which will add an extra dimension to the offense. And the running of Jaydn Ott could also be a problem for the Auburn defense.

Cal also has the defensive mind of head coach Justin Wilcox, who I’ve admired for a long time. 

The Tigers should be better this year under Hugh Freeze, but this Pac-12 after-dark special has upset written all over it, especially if Auburn is down a few players and Jackson plays.

PICK: California (+6.5) to lose by fewer than 6.5 points (or win outright)

Temple at Rutgers, 7:30 p.m., Big Ten

This was a 16-14 game last year. How much has really changed with both teams to suggest the State University of New Jersey should be laying close to double-digits against anyone?

Rutgers averaged less than four yards per play against a bad Northwestern team, so the offensive issues still exist. Temple did not play well in the first half against Akron but made the right adjustments at halftime, as the Owls allowed just 41 yards in the second half. 

I’ll happily grab the points here, as I expect Temple to put together four quarters here. 

PICK: Temple (+9.5) to lose by fewer than 9.5 points (or win outright)

Troy at No. 15 Kansas State, noon, FS1 and FOX Sports App 

I will admit I'm a little hesitant here, as Tulane went to Manhattan, Kansas, last year and pulled a big upset. 

But the allure of a Troy team with a very good running back in Kimani Vidal, an experienced defense and a head coach in Jon Sumrall who will play up the underdog role is too much for me to pass up. 

K-State has former conference rival Missouri next up, so maybe there will be just a little peek ahead from the defending Big 12 champs. I'm not sure the Trojans can go there and win, but I’ll bite on the points. 

PICK: Troy (+16.5) to lose by fewer than 16.5 points (or win outright)

New Mexico State at Liberty, 6 p.m., ESPN+

The Flames' 10-point win over Bowling Green last week was more about the awful Falcons showing than it was about a good Liberty outing. The Falcons committed five turnovers, had nine penalties and were 2-for-12 on third down. 

That’s not to say the Aggies aren’t willing to help the Flames out. They lost to Massachusetts despite outgaining the Minutemen by almost 100 yards, probably because they lost the turnover battle 3-0.

I expect QB Diego Pavia and the offense to clean things up and score enough to hang around here. I'll grab the points.

PICK: New Mexico State (+11) to lose by fewer than 11 points (or win outright)

Southern Miss at No. 4 Florida State, 8:30 p.m., ACC

I have to think the Seminoles, on a short week, will not be fully locked in emotionally. There’s no chance of an upset loss, but covering 31 points after Sunday’s win over LSU seems like a tough ask. 

The Golden Eagles are probably in a bit of a transition year roster wise, but if they can score 14, that should be enough to cover the big number. 

PICK: Southern Miss (+31) to lose by fewer than 31 points (or win outright)

Stanford at No. 6 USC, 10:30 p.m., FOX and FOX Sports App

Let’s not overreact to the Cardinal's win against a bad Hawaii team, where people were betting on the Rainbow Warriors like they had tomorrow’s newspaper. 

There’s little reason to think the Trojans will not put up around 50 points here and head into the idle week on a high note. Hawaii did throw for 350 yards on Stanford with zero threat of a running game, so this game has the potential to be very ugly. 

PICK: USC (-29) to win by more than 29 points


Temple: +270
Cal: +220
Texas Tech: +215
New Mexico State: +320
NC State: +255
Texas: +240

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:

Alabama vs. Texas

Since 2016, Alabama has been favored by seven points or fewer eight times. The Tide is just 3-5 in those eight games (2-6 ATS). In the two games at Bryant-Denny that fall into this mold, the Tide beat Georgia in 2020 and lost to LSU in 2019.

This is the sixth time Texas has been an underdog under Steve Sarkisian. Four of the previous five have been decided by one score, including Alabama’s 20-19 win a year ago in Austin. Dating back to 2012, Sarksian’s teams have been underdogs 12 times and lost 11, with the only win coming at Stanford in 2014 while at USC.  Sark’s teams also are just 2-8 ATS as a dog in the last 10 games, dating back to 2013. 

Texas Tech vs. Oregon

Texas Tech was a home underdog twice last year under Joey McGuire. The Red Raiders won both of those games outright, beating Oklahoma 51-48 as a 1.5-point dog and Texas 37-34 as a seven-point dog. 

Colorado vs. Nebraska 

This is the first time Colorado is favored vs. a Power Five opponent since October 16, 2021, when CU beat Arizona 34-0 as a six-point favorite. 

This is the eighth straight game Nebraska is an underdog. The Huskers have covered five of the previous seven. From 1991 to 2001, Nebraska was an underdog eight times in 130 games.

Nineteen of Nebraska’s last 28 games vs. Power Five opponents have been decided by one score. Nebraska is 4-15 in those 19 games. 

Virginia Tech vs. Purdue 

Virginia Tech has lost each of its last five non-conference games against Power Five opponents, despite each of the games having a spread of six points or fewer. In the last two instances, the Hokies lost by 23 to West Virginia last year and 44 to Maryland in the 2021 Bowl game. Tech’s last non-conference P5 win came vs. West Virginia in 2017. Tech is a three-point favorite over Purdue this week. 

Cal vs. Auburn

Justin Wilcox’s teams are 27-12 ATS as underdogs. Cal’s last straight-up win as a dog came in 2021 against Oregon State. The team has lost eight straight since. 

Iowa at Iowa State

Each of the last four - and 15 of the last 17 - Iowa/Iowa State games have gone under the number, seeing 17, 44, 35 and 16 points scored the last four years; the 2021 game went under by a point, but the other three stayed under by 32, 8 and 29 points. 

Iowa State has had 25 games with a spread between -4 and +4 under Matt Campbell. The Cyclones are 6-19 in those games, with losses in each of the last six and nine of the last 10. 

Fourteen of the 19 losses came by seven points or fewer, 10 by four or fewer and eight by a FG or fewer. 

Eastern Michigan at Minnesota

EMU beat Big Ten teams three years in a row from 2017-19 (SUNJ, Purdue, Illinois). Minnesota, which scored 13 points last week vs. Nebraska, is a 20.5-point favorite over the Eagles. 

Troy at Kansas State

The Trojans have been super-live dogs under Jon Sumrall, covering all six games and winning four outright. Troy allowed 13.0 PPG in those four wins. 

Last year K-State lost its third game of the year as a two-TD favorite against Tulane. The Wildcats have been a double-digit favorite over an FBS opponent eight times under Chris Klieman and have lost three times outright, losing to Arkansas State in 2020 and West Virginia in 2019. Interestingly, those are the only three of the eight games K-State didn’t cover. So, will we have another blowout win or a big upset here?

Baylor vs. Utah

Under Dave Aranda, Baylor is 11-5-1 ATS with eight outright wins as a dog. 

Oklahoma State at Arizona State

Since 2015, Oklahoma State has had 27 games with a spread between -4 and +4. Mike Gundy’s Cowboys won 21 of them and have gone 18-6-3 ATS. Oklahoma State is currently a three-point favorite over the Sun Devils. 

Miami vs. Texas A&M 

After winning four of five games as an underdog vs. ranked teams from 2019-21 at Oregon, Mario Cristobal’s teams have lost four straight in this spot, with three of the four losses coming by at least 28 points, including a 30-point loss to Clemson last year. In those four games, Cristobal’s teams were outscored 133-36 and haven’t scored more than 10 points in any game. 

Notre Dame at NC State

Notre Dame has won 15 straight true road games in which it was favored, dating back to a 2017 loss at Stanford. The last time ND lost a true road game as a favorite of at least seven points was 1999 when the Irish lost 37-27 at Stanford as a nine-point favorite. 

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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