College Football
2023 College Football Week 8 predictions, best bets by Chris 'The Bear' Fallica
College Football

2023 College Football Week 8 predictions, best bets by Chris 'The Bear' Fallica

Updated Oct. 20, 2023 1:19 p.m. ET

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

Week 8 of the college football season is here, and I like a couple of underdogs 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 favorite wagers for Week 8.

Last week: 3-4 (21-26-1 season)

(All times ET Saturday)

South Carolina @ No. 20 Missouri, 3:30 p.m., SEC

The Tigers are coming off a nice upset win at Kentucky and have potentially their biggest game in quite some time coming up against Georgia.

The Gamecocks blew a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead last week against Florida, but their passing attack was on point. At the very least, quarterback Spencer Rattler will keep South Carolina within striking distance, and if the pass rush doesn't fall apart like it did against Florida's Graham Mertz, it can go to Missouri and pull the upset. 

PICK: South Carolina (+7) to lose by fewer than 7 points (or win outright)

Pittsburgh @ Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m., ACC

The Panthers played to the script last week by upsetting undefeated Louisville, and that, of course, means they will go to Winston-Salem and lose to a Wake Forest team that has scored 16, 12 and 13 points the past three weeks, with a pair of two-touchdown losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in which it turned the ball over eight times. 

The Demon Deacons have quarterback issues, but this is just a play against what I expect to be typical bizarro Pitt. 

PICK: Wake Forest (-1) to win by more than 1 point

RJ Young: Ohio State-Penn State preview and predictions

Northwestern @ Nebraska, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten

The Wildcats have been blasted by Rutgers and Duke in their two road games, and if the Cornhuskers have done anything consistently well this year — other than turn the ball over with Jeff Sims — it is doing a good job against bad offenses.

Minnesota scored 13 points, Northern Illinois 11, Louisiana Tech 14 and Illinois seven against the Cornhuskers. 

Getting there will probably be a bit of an uncomfortable grind, but it feels very 27-10-ish.

PICK: Nebraska (-11.5) to win by more than 11.5 points

No. 13 Ole Miss @ Auburn, 7 p.m., ESPN

The Tigers were torched for 563 yards and 48 points in Baton Rouge last week and now get to deal with Jaxson Dart, Lane Kiffin and the Rebels offense. 

There isn't much there to think the Tigers can pull the upset, but we saw Georgia have to rally in the second half at Jordan-Hare Stadium and if there's one thing the Auburn offense hasn't done in SEC play (besides be trusted to score points), it is not turning the ball over (one in three games). 

This game just has weird written all over it, and I'll grab the points as a result.

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

Illinois @ Wisconsin 3:30 p.m., FS1

The transition to an air-raid offense has not gone well for the Badgers, who will have to go without Tanner Mordecai now. Illinois played its best game of the season last week in an upset of Maryland, and you know Bret Bielema would love to kick his former employer a little bit more while it's down. 

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

Michigan State @ No. 2 Michigan 7:30 p.m., NBC

I’m sure the immediate reaction to this game is that Michigan will be so mad after the sign-stealing reports they will take it out on the Spartans.

I guess that's possible, but Michigan State hasn’t quit on the season. The Spartans have made some mind-numbingly bad plays, sure, but they have been in the game the last two weeks. Yes, Michigan is a different animal, and every one of its wins has been by at least 24 points, but I’ll hold my nose here and see if MSU can get a third straight cover as an unpopular dog. 

PICK: Michigan State (+24) to lose by fewer than 24 points (or win outright)

Minnesota @ No. 24 Iowa  3:30 p.m., NBC

This line makes very little sense, so red lights are immediately flashing. I get Iowa’s offense is putrid. But shouldn’t a team that's 6-1 be favored by more than 3.5 at home over a team it has dominated lately, as well as a team that gave up 37 and lost to Northwestern and is coming off a 52-10 debacle vs Michigan? Yes, they should be, to answer my rhetorical question. 

Let’s hop in the boat and row with our guy, P.J. Fleck. 

PICK: Minnesota (+3.5) to lose by fewer than 3.5 points (or win outright)

UCF @ No. 6 Oklahoma Noon, ABC

OU has been a bettor’s best friend this season, cashing the ticket every week. Last we saw the Sooners, Dillon Gabriel put on a show vs. Texas and OU pulled the upset. This could be one of those games, though. In three of the last four years, OU has lost a game outright as a double-digit favorite and since 2018, the Sooners also have 11 wins by single digits when favored by double digits, so it's not uncommon for the Sooners to have "that game." 

I don't expect UCF to go to Norman and win, but this is still an offense that can put up points, and I’ll grab the big number with the Knights coming off the idle week and a blowout loss at Kansas. 

PICK: UCF (+17.5) to lose by fewer than 17.5 points (or win outright)

Mississippi State @ Arkansas Noon, ESPN

People will probably compare scores here and see that Arkansas was competitive with both LSU and Alabama while the Bulldogs were not. But this spot feels better for State, which was off last week, while Arkansas has yet to have an off week and just played LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Alabama in four straight weeks. That has to take a toll, no? State has been disappointing this year, but I’ll take the points here. 

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


South Carolina +230
Auburn +210
Connecticut +110
Rice +135
Georgia State +130

Will USC get revenge against Utah?


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:

Penn State @ Ohio State

Under James Franklin, ranked Penn State teams are 0-6 on the road vs. top 10 opponents. Only once were the Nittany Lions underdogs of less than a TD; that was at Iowa in 2021 when they lost 23-20 to the Hawkeyes. 

This is the first time since the 2018 Michigan game that the Buckeyes are not favored by at least a TD at home. That day, Ohio State was a four-point dog to Michigan and beat the Wolverines 62-39. 

Duke @ Florida State 

Prior to losing by seven as a 5.5-point underdog to Notre Dame, Duke had covered five straight as a dog, with three outright wins, including two as a double-digit dog. 

Since the start of last year, only two Power 5 schools have won three games as a double-digit dog — Duke and Georgia Tech. Insert ACC Coastal joke as you see fit.

Minnesota @ Iowa 

Think the total of 32 is low in Iowa-Minnesota? Last year, it was 31.5, and the game didn’t come close to going over when Iowa beat Minnesota 13-10 for its eighth-straight win in the series. 

Air Force @ Navy 

Each of the last five games between service academies has been decided by seven points or fewer. In each of the last eight games, 37 points or fewer have been scored. Underdogs have covered 17 of the last 20 meetings.

Clemson @ Miami 

Miami is 0-5 in ACC home games under Mario Cristobal. All five losses came vs. unranked teams. The Canes have failed to cover any of the games, losing three by at least 24 points. 

Clemson has won the last four meetings over Miami by a combined 178-30 margin. That includes a 40-10 win over the Canes last November. 

Big 12 Newcomers No Good

The four new Big 12 teams are 2-10 in Big 12 play. One of the wins was BYU over another newbie, Cincinnati, and the other was Houston over West Virginia on a last-second miracle finish. Baylor is at Cincinnati, Texas Tech is at BYU, Texas is at Houston and UCF is at Oklahoma this week. 

South Carolina @ Missouri 

South Carolina has lost four straight to Missouri, the last two years as a favorite over the Tigers. 

Toledo @ Miami 

Miami vs. Toledo is the first meeting between two MAC schools 6-1 or better since 2013, when 9-0 Northern Illinois beat 9-1 Ball State 48-27. 

Big Favorite Bounce

6-0 North Carolina faces 1-5 Virginia and 6-0 Washington faces 1-5 Arizona State this week after beating ranked opponents last week. 

Dating back to 1978, there have been 89 such meetings between a team 6-0 or better and a team 1-5 or worse. Only once has the undefeated team been upset. That came in 1989 when Fresno State was upset by New Mexico. There have also been two ties — Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech in 1980 and Texas A&M vs SMU in 1994. Dating back to 2021 there have been five such meetings. 

None of the five favorites covered, and all five of the games went under. 

Rutgers @ Indiana

Rutgers has not been this big of a favorite in a Big Ten road game. In 41 previous Big Ten road games, SUNJ has been favored only twice, both coming in 2021, and those were by 1.5 and 2 points. One has to go back to 2009 to find the last time SUNJ was this big of a road favorite in a conference game. That day, Rutgers was a 9.5-point favorite at Syracuse and lost 31-13. 

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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