“Bear Bets” are real wagers that Chris “The Bear” Fallica is actually making.
Week 4 of the college football season is here, and I like several underdogs to bark 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 dive into my favorite wagers for Week 4.
Last week: 2-2 (6-10 season)
(All times ET)
Air Force at San Jose State, 10:30 p.m. Friday, FS1 and the FOX Sports App
The Falcons are 3-0 after beating an FCS team (Robert Morris), an FCS team that has just become an FBS team (Sam Houston State) and one of the Mountain West’s bottom teams (Utah State).
The Spartans predictably got beaten up by USC and Oregon State, but the defense didn’t play poorly last week, as San Jose State lost at Toledo 21-17. The Spartans have turned it over just twice all season. I bring this up because, in a game versus an opponent like Air Force, where you aren’t going to get many possessions, you need to capitalize on yours.
Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro should give the Falcons some problems through the air and keep this one close — and us entertained on Friday night.
PICK: San Jose State (+6) to lose by fewer than 6 points (or win outright)
Auburn at Texas A&M, noon Saturday, ESPN
In their road game at Cal, the Tigers put up a grand total of 14 points, turned it over four times and Payton Thorne was 9-for-14 passing for 94 yards.
This will be a bit tougher of a task, as the Aggies did what they should have done against a bad Louisiana-Monroe team last week (47-3). What if Miami is pretty good? That certainly would change one’s opinion of that 48-33 loss, no?
A&M has the better roster, and while I know this game has historically featured some big upsets and strange results, I don’t see that being the case here. The A&M defense will make things tough on Auburn while quarterback Conner Weigman and the offense will continue to grow.
PICK: Texas A&M (-7.5) to win by more than 7.5 points
Tulsa at Northern Illinois, noon Saturday, CBSSN
NIU shocked a bad Boston College team in the opener, but since then, the team has lost to Southern Illinois and Nebraska, scoring 11 points in each game.
The Huskies offense is nearly non-existent, and I’ll take the Golden Hurricane and the points here in the “drop in class” off consecutive drubbings at the hands of two of the better offenses in the country in Washington and Oklahoma.
PICK: Tulsa (+4) to lose by fewer than 4 points (or win outright)
Georgia Southern at Ball State, 2 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+
Six turnovers did the Eagles in last week at Wisconsin, and now Georgia Southern heads back on the road to a far less anticipated spot — Muncie, Indiana — to take on the Cardinals.
Ball State was competitive for a quarter at Kentucky and Georgia, and might be catching QB Davis Brin and Georgia Southern at the right time — big underdog last game, let an upset chance slip away, now favored on the road against a team that hasn’t played terrible defense so far.
The Eagles have a home game against Coastal Carolina next week, so this feels like the ultimate sandwich spot.
PICK: Ball State (+6.5) to lose by fewer than 6.5 points (or win outright)
Liberty at Florida International, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+
At some point, the turnover fairy has to stop for the Flames, no? Liberty is +8 on the year, and turnovers were huge factors in the wins over Bowling Green and New Mexico State.
The 55-27 win at Buffalo was no fluke, but now you’re going on the road again to FIU, which is shockingly 3-1 and could be 4-0. The Golden Panthers are 3-0 with young QB Keyone Jenkins, including outscoring North Texas 46-39 two weeks ago.
Maybe it’s time to buy in a little bit more to FIU before the numbers catch up.
PICK: FIU (+10.5) to lose by fewer than 10.5 points (or win outright)
No. 3 Texas at Baylor, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC
After sleepwalking through the Wyoming game, expect the Longhorns offense to explode here. Baylor gave up 42 points to Texas State, and Texas has a far better set of offensive players than the Bobcats.
It just doesn’t look like a typical Dave Aranda defense. It wasn’t good last year, and I’m not sure if it is any better this year. Quinn Ewers and that receiving corps should put up points and have a monster day.
PICK: Texas team total Over 33.5 points
Mississippi State at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, SEC
There could be some residuals in this game after the Gamecocks’ hard-fought 24-14 loss at Georgia last week. Included in that is the injury to wide receiver Juice Wells, which will be a factor here against a Mississippi State team that was pretty much a no-show last week against LSU.
Will Rogers didn’t suddenly forget how to play QB and the Bulldogs, at some point, will convert more than 30% of their third downs. After being embarrassed last week, expect MSU to make a better showing of itself.
PICK: Mississippi State (+6.5) to lose by fewer than 6.5 points (or win outright)
Western Michigan at Toledo, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+
Two Power 5 teams have predictably throttled WMU the last two weeks, but now the team gets a little break in the schedule as it returns to MAC play. As QB Dequan Finn goes, so does the Rockets offense. Last week, Finn threw for just 92 yards, and the Rockets needed a pick six to beat San Jose State. I’m not really sure what the level is for WMU, but getting 21.5 here in its MAC opener, I’m willing to take a chance.
PICK: Western Michigan (+21.5) to lose by fewer than 21.5 points (or win outright)
Buffalo at Louisiana, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+
Buffalo hits the road to Lafayette after a blowout home loss to Liberty. The Bulls’ biggest issue has been its pass defense, which has allowed two 653 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two weeks. We’ll see if the Ragin’ Cajuns can exploit it.
The crazy thing about Buffalo’s struggles the last two weeks is that this is the same team that was down 14-10 at Camp Randall midway through the third quarter. I expect a better performance this week from UB.
PICK: Buffalo (+10) to lose by fewer than 10 points (or win outright)
Ohio State at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC
Notre Dame has been the most dominant team in college football so far, scoring at least 40 points in every game and winning each by at least 21 points. However, this will be by far the best defense the Irish have faced. It shouldn’t be too much of a shock for Sam Hartman, who has seen some pretty good Clemson defenses in the past.
Notre Dame is one of the more popular dogs on the card this week, and it’s a very rare opportunity to get Ohio State at such a low number.
I think the Buckeyes found something offensively last week, albeit against a bad defense in Western Kentucky. But I think it was huge for Kyle McCord’s confidence. If the line can protect just a bit, the Ohio State skill guys should have chances for chunk plays.
PICK: Ohio State (-3) to win by more than 3 points
Ohio State, Alabama, Colorado among six ranked matchups to bet on in CFB Week 4
The guys take a look at the great college football slate this week.
UNDERDOGS TO PLAY ON ML
San Jose State +185
Mississippi State +195
Washington State +130
Ball State +200
Florida State at Clemson
This is just the second time in the last 66 home games that Clemson is an underdog. The other instance came in 2016 when the Tigers were a one-point dog to Lamar Jackson’s Louisville team and won a great game 42-36.
This is the sixth time in the CFP era that a Top-5 team has been favored by a FG or less against an unranked opponent. Four of the previous five won, with the lone exception being Michigan State at Purdue in 2021. Last year, TCU won at Baylor 29-28 as a 2.5-point favorite.
If you include Duke from this season, Clemson is 2-8 vs. teams which finished the season ranked or are currently ranked since the 2020 CFP Semifinal loss to Ohio State.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Iowa State has had 27 games with a spread between -4 and +4 under Matt Campbell. The Cyclones are 6-21 in those games, with losses in each of the last eight and 11 of the last 12. Included in that stretch are two games vs. Mike Gundy’s Cowboys.
Since 2015, Oklahoma State has had 28 games where the spread landed between -4 and +4. Mike Gundy’s Cowboys won 22 of them and have gone 19-6-3 ATS. Oklahoma State is currently a 3.5-point dog at Iowa State.
Ole Miss at Alabama
Since 2016, Alabama has been favored by seven points or fewer nine times. The Tide is just 3-6 in those nine games (2-7 ATS). In the three games at Bryant-Denny that fall into this mold, the Tide beat Georgia in 2020, lost to LSU in 2019 and lost two weeks ago to Texas. Alabama is currently a 6.5-point favorite over Ole Miss.
Ohio State at Notre Dame
This is the eighth time in the last 10 years Notre Dame has been a home underdog. The Fighting Irish have won six of the previous seven, including two wins over Top-5 Clemson teams.
This is the first time under Ryan Day that Ohio State will play a regular season game with a spread of six points or fewer.
Only three teams this season have scored at least 40 points in each game and won each game by at least 21 points. Those three teams are Notre Dame (4-0), USC (3-0) and Washington (3-0).
Iowa at Penn State
Since beating Ohio State 55-24 as a 20.5-point underdog in 2017, Iowa has been a double-digit dog four times. In those four games, Iowa has been outscored 161-41 and hasn’t scored more than 14 points in any game.
Charlotte at Florida
In its last eight games as a double-digit favorite against FBS opponents, Florida has covered only once and lost twice outright. Last year, the Gators were a 23.5-point favorite vs. USF and won 31-28.
Oklahoma at Cincinnati
Oklahoma is 5-8 in its last 13 Big 12 games. It had lost just eight times in its previous 67 games vs. Big 12 opposition.
North Carolina at Pitt
Dating back to 2019, Pitt has pulled just one upset in a regular season game, a 2020 upset win over Virginia Tech. That’s also the only of the nine games in that span that Pitt has covered as a dog.
Miami at Temple
This is as big a road favorite as Miami has been since 2005 when the Hurricanes were a 41.5-point favorite at, coincidentally, Temple.
Colorado at Oregon
This is the fifth time in the CFP era there has been a Top-20 matchup with a spread of at least 21 points. The last was Georgia’s 30-13 win over Kentucky in 2021. Dating back to 1979, only two times has an underdog of at least 21 points won a Top-20 matchup – BYU over Oklahoma in 2009 and Arizona State over Nebraska in 1996.
Duke at Connecticut
Duke is a 20-point favorite over an FBS opponent for the fourth time since 1999 and the first time since 2012. This could be a huge lookahead spot as the Blue Devils host Notre Dame next week.
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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