Bowl season is in full swing and the chaos has already started with a handful of wild finishes and crazy comebacks.
I expect the upsets will continue as the second week of the 2023 bowl calendar continues with a slew of games after Christmas Day and beyond. As we have seen through the first handful of games, there are plenty of wild outcomes in bowl games and variance is high, so who should we target on the bowl calendar for the second week of games?
Here are three live underdogs this coming week that standout as underdog bets to make.
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Best Upset Picks for 2023 College Football Bowl Season
- Bowling Green (+150) vs. Minnesota
- Oklahoma State (+110) vs. Texas A&M
- North Carolina State (+115) vs. Kansas State
Bowling Green vs. Minnesota Prediction and Pick
While Minnesota is a Big Ten team, playing in a far tougher conference than Bowling Green, a MAC member, I don't see any difference between the state of both teams.
The Golden Gophers struggled all year and will turn to a third-string quarterback in its bowl game. Meanwhile, the team's defense, which has been its calling card over the past several years, has struggled mightily and won't have its defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, who took the same position at Michigan State. The team is 96th in yards per play allowed and particularly poor at defending the run, allowing nearly five yards per carry.
That's Bowling Green's strength, who is 15th in EPA/Rush and may get Stewart back in the fold. The team has an identity around its run game and vaunted defensive line, which is top 20 in sacks this season and has gained more turnovers than any team in the country (27). Doesn't this seem like a really good spot for a havoc-driven defense to show up and beat a team that is full of question marks on offense?
Meanwhile, the Gophers are 119th in yards per play this season, and now are starting an outmatched quarterback.
Name brands are likely driving the fact that Minnesota is favored, but I don't expect the team to get margin on Bowling Green's formidable defense with a complete zero at quarterback.
With a low total, there aren't expected to be many scoring opportunities, giving me more confidence the underdog can hang around and possibly win outright.
PICK: Bowling Green +150
Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M Prediction and Pick
The list is long for who won't be on the sidelines for Texas A&M in this game. Sure, the team will be playing two hours from College Station in Houston, but who is showing up from the team. The team will start the third-stringer Henderson again, but won't have a handful of starters including the likes of pass rusher Fadil Diggs, cornerbacks Bryce Anderson, Deuce Harmon, and Josh DeBarry, and wide receivers Ainias Smith, Moose Muhammad, and Evan Stewart...and so much more.
So yes, why is Texas A&M favored? I'm not exactly sure. Prior expectations and power ratings? SEC bias? I'm not sure, but I'm not going to trust this team heading into bowl season given that the team also has a fully new coaching staff set to take over in the offseason.
I'I'dll rather put my money on the team that exceeded expectations this season and is hunting for 10 wins under a head coach who has shown up in bowl games plenty of times before in Gundy.
While Oklahoma State's defense is suspect, the offense can test a patchwork Texas A&M defense. The Pokes should have full attendance outside of Gordon (who could very well play despite being in the transfer portal), including an elite Pokes offensive line that was top 10 in sacks allowed this season. Even without Gordon, Oklahoma State will be able to pass the ball on the Aggies' secondary which is outside the top 100 in explosive pass defense.
Give me the underdog in the Texas Bowl in a battle between two teams with differing levels of motivation.
PICK: OKlahoma State +110
North Carolina State vs. Kansas State Prediction and Pick
This is a motivation mismatch as the Wolfpack are trying to finish a double-digit win season and should have full attendance in this game for a veteran roster.
Kansas State has been fairly overrated this season and now will be replacing a ton of key contributors, including the likes of Howard, starting safety Kobe Savage, cornerback Will Lee, two key pass catchers in Phillip Brooks and Ben Sinnott, and future first or second round pick Cooper Beebee on the line.
Kansas State gave the freshman Johnson plenty of reps this season in unique packages, but he will draw the state against an elite North Carolina State defense that is 20th in points per drive allowed and 33rd in yards per carry. The team has also generated the fifth most turnovers this season (24). I believe the team can give Johnson fits in this bowl game setting.
Meanwhile, Kansas State's defense is a bit overrated, ranking 75th in yards per play allowed and 90th in yards per carry allowed. I believe North Carolina State is peaking at the right time and gets the upset win, but I'll happily take the field goal.
PICK: North Carolina State +115
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Track Reed's bets here!