FOX Sports Wagering Expert
College football Week 1 kicks off this weekend for the 2023 season, and I couldn’t be more pumped. This means the next few days will be exciting for fans who love football and bettors looking for fun ways to wager a few bucks.
I’ve already given you my best bets for Week 1 games, but now it’s time to have a little 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:
Since 1982, there have been 22 season-opening top-10 matchups. Only six underdogs won outright.
This is not expected to be a very competitive opening weekend. Of the 17 ranked opponents facing an unranked FBS opponent beginning Saturday, only two are favored by fewer than 13 points — No. 21 North Carolina -2.5 vs. South Carolina and No. 24 Tulane -6.5 vs. South Alabama.
Ten are favored by at least 24 points, while seven teams are favored by at least 30 points. And that doesn’t even include the five teams facing FCS opponents.
The only ranked matchup is No. 5 LSU at No. 8 Florida State on Sunday. LSU is currently a 2.5-point favorite in that matchup.
(All times ET)
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Nebraska at Minnesota, 8 p.m. Thursday, FOX and FOX Sports App
As a college coach, Matt Rhule is 34-15 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog with 16 outright wins. In games where he’s a six-point dog or more, his teams are 26-11 ATS.
NC State at Connecticut, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, CBSSN
UConn was one of 10 teams to win twice last year as a 13.5-point underdog or greater. The Huskies are a 14-point dog here.
Miami (Ohio) at Miami (Fla.), 7 p.m. Friday, ACCN
The Hurricanes went 0-6 ATS as a favorite vs. FBS teams last year, losing three times outright, including twice as a double-digit favorite (-10 vs. Duke, -25.5 vs. Middle Tennessee).
Coastal Carolina at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Are the Bruins on upset alert? Last year, UCLA was a 15.5-point favorite over South Alabama and survived 32-31. In 2021, UCLA was an 11-point favorite over Fresno State and lost 40-37. The Bruins are 14.5-point favorites here.
No. 9 Clemson at Duke, 8 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Clemson has been a double-digit favorite 14 times and is just 4-10 ATS in those spots over the past two years. The Tigers have lost twice outright, including the last time they were in this role, which was against South Carolina.
Boise State at No. 10 Washington, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC
Since 2016, Boise State is 2-7 vs. Power 5 opponents, with five of the seven losses coming by at least 17 points.
Old Dominion at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. Saturday, ACCN
The Monarchs have beaten the Hokies in two of the past three meetings — as six-point dogs last year and 29-point dogs in 2018. Virginia Tech is a 16-point favorite Saturday.
West Virginia at No. 7 Penn State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC
Last season, Penn State was favored in 11 games. The Nittany Lions won all of them, with nine coming by at least 14 points and six coming by at least 28 points. Penn State is a 20.5-point favorite this weekend.
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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