It's Championship weekend, and the market is tightening, but there are still a few live underdogs that can hoist the trophy at the end of their respeective title games.
With only 10 games on the card, the upset picks column may not shock some, especially with some tightly lined spreads. While I'm not sure many games will feature massive stunners that will shake the College Football Playoff picture, I think the Group of Five presents two exciting underdog wagers to key in on.
Here's my favorite upset picks for the Conference Championships this weekend. If you want some free bets to go with these underdogs, make sure to sign up with FanDuel Sportsbook. If you sign up using the link below and place one $5 wager on ANY moneyline and win, you'll get $150 in bonus bets INSTANTLY!
New Mexico State vs. Liberty Prediction and Pick
New Mexico State has been underrated since a Week 0 loss at home to UMass. Since then, the team has taken off offensively as the running game has emerged around Paiva with the likes of Star Thomas (nearly six yards per carry) flanking him in the backfield.
The Aggies play a bend, don't break style of defense, ranking right around the national average in terms of yards per play allowed, but top 30 in terms of points per drive allowed, letting up less than two points per drive on defense. The unit is top half of the nation in explosive run and pass rate and is top 20 in red zone touchdown percentage.
While not as talented as last year, the unit has done a good job of giving the offense opportunities to take advantage, which it has in Conference USA play.
The offense is 10th in yards per play behind its run game that is fourth in yards per carry. The passing game isn't consistent, but it hunts for big plays, top 20 in explosive pass rate.
Liberty's defense grades out nicely as an above average unit, but it hasn't faced an offense this dynamic. The team beat New Mexico State by 16 in Week 2, closing as 9.5-point favorites, the only time the Flames have played a top 35 offense in terms of EPA/Play.
However, it's fair to note that while Liberty is still undefeated and hasn't gotten worse, New Mexico State has gotten significantly better. It's worth noting those teams were even on a yards per play basis and NMSU lost the turnover margin by two.
I'm not saying Liberty is overrated, the team has had a special season, but New Mexico State is simply far better than they were earlier this season. The team is off of beating Auburn as a three touchdown underdog and a bowl eligible Jacksonville State team as a home dog. The market can't catch up to the Aggies.
PICK: New Mexico State (+340)
Boise State vs. UNLV Prediction and Pick
It's commendable that Boise State made the Mountain West title game despite firing its coach two weeks ago, but this defense is going to be exposed against UNLV on the road after beating two banged up teams in a row in Utah State and Air Force.
Boise State's defense has fallen off a cliff after being an elite unit in 2022. The team has allowed 27 or more points to every top 50 offense in terms of EPA/Play outside of UCF (who had 400 total yards but converted only one of five times in the red zone). UNLV is, as mentioned above, 34th in EPA/Play.
Further, UNLV's defensive line can limit Boise State's run game and force Taylen Green into obvious passing situations, which won't work out for the road favorite. Green has completed only 20-of-53 passes on throws of 10-19 yards with zero big time throws to five turnover worthy plays and completed 11-of-39 passes of 20 or more yards, per Pro Football Focus.
Give me the home dog, there's plenty of matchup edges for UNLV on both sides of the ball.
PICK (UNLV +120)
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
Track Reed's bets here!