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Chandler Morris of the TCU Horned Frogs passes under pressure from Hayden Shaheen of the Nicholls State Colonels at Amon G. Carter Stadium as we look at our college football upset picks.
Chandler Morris of the TCU Horned Frogs passes under pressure from Hayden Shaheen of the Nicholls State Colonels at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP.

Our college football upset picks are a tidy 6-3 for better than +8 units, and we’re looking to keep the winning wagers lining our pockets with our Week 3 picks based on the most reliable college football odds from our best sports betting apps.

We're tracking a pair of Big 12 teams for this week's upset picks.

The conference boasts three ranked schools and is now in the spotlight after Texas topped Alabama in Week 2. That marked the first time the Crimson Tide have lost by double digits in Tuscaloosa during Nick Saban’s tenure.

For even more college football coverage, we're hitting you with our college football best bets, some of the week's most enticing college football player props, and our favorite college football parlay predictions

And for those looking for all of our favorite college football picks in one place, we've got you covered with our college football Week 3 predictions

Here are our best college football upset picks for Week 3 (odds via our best college football betting sites; Pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

College football upset picks: Week 3

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College football upset predictions

Ohio ML (+146 via FanDuel) vs. Iowa State ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Iowa State offense was never expected to look pretty against a stingy Iowa defense given the low-scoring nature of the rivalry, especially after the unit was decimated over a gambling probe. The offseason scandal caused Iowa State to lose 3,000-plus-yard passer Hunter Dekkers and leading rusher Jirehl Brock. It was already a Cyclones offense averaging just 20.2 points per game, and it ranked outside the top 100 in scoring during 2022.

Ohio received a big boost last week from the return of quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who was injured during the team’s opening-week loss to San Diego State. After sitting out the week prior, Rourke led a come-from-behind victory with his team a 3.5-point underdog against FAU in Week 2, throwing for 203 yards and overcoming two interceptions.

Rourke became the first Bobcat since 1996 to win the MAC Player of the Year Award, and he's coming off a campaign when he finished in the top 10 nationally in completion percentage, passing yards per game, efficiency, and total offense. While he's still under a year removed from an ACL injury, Rourke has logged more than a game to work out some rust. He should lead an inspired Bobcats squad that gets a rare visit from a Power 5 school.

The odds at FanDuel represent great value considering the next closest sportsbook (DraftKings) is posting +136 odds to back the underdogs on the moneyline.

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James Madison ML (+130 via DraftKingsFanDuel) vs. Troy ⭐⭐⭐

James Madison is starting to give the feel of a team that's been an FBS school for much longer than just last year after winning 10 of its first 13 games since transitioning from the FBS. The Dukes finished 2022 in the top 53 in offensive and defensive SP+, and they were even ranked in the AP poll after starting 5-0. Arizona transfer quarterback Jordan McCloud has done an excellent job taking over for Todd Centeio, who totaled nearly 3,200 yards in 2022.

The Dukes must focus quickly after winning an emotional 36-35 instant classic against in-state rival Virginia. But we love JMU’s veteran leadership, as 12 of 16 defenders who played at least 200 snaps last season have returned. The Dukes should hold an edge over a Troy team with its strength rooted in defense based on its projected No. 44 SP+ ranking compared to an offense that ranked No. 88 in the preseason.

However, the Trojans lost seven defenders who played 300-plus snaps, which makes it an uphill battle to replicate their 12 wins and conference championship from 2022. James Madison did not play Troy last year, so we also like the element of surprise that's factored into this first conference meeting.

DraftKings and FanDuel offer the best value for underdog backers, with all of our other best sportsbooks at +125 or lower on the Dukes.

Houston ML (+265 via FanDuel) vs. TCU ⭐⭐⭐

Houston is a 7.5-point home underdog to TCU after a disappointing loss as 9.5-point favorites against Rice for the first time during the rivalry since 2010. But eventually that loss to the Owls won't feel as shocking given how well Rice stood up to a Texas team that just beat Alabama.

The Cougars will need the offense that recorded 27 first downs against Rice and totaled 443 yards to pull off the upset, instead of the one that mustered just 17 points while averaging 2.7 yards per rush against UTSA. While Houston returns just five offensive starters from 2022, this pick is more about fading a TCU team that's bringing back only 18% of players responsible for its scrimmage yards last campaign and the fourth-lowest offensive production (33%) among FBS teams. 

Houston should be fired up to play its first Big 12 game, and we expect more of the offense from Week 2 against a Horned Frogs defense that ranks 64th in SP+ so far. 

FanDuel is the only shop where one can back the Cougars at greater than +245 odds.

College football upset picks made 9/13/2023 at 6:38 a.m. ET

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