2023 First Responder Bowl Betting Odds, Predictions, Preview

The First Responder Bowl wrapped up on Tuesday, December 26, 2023 and bettors saw Texas State blow out Rice, 45-21 as 3.5-point favorites.

Recap all the 2023 First Responder Bowl Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions and History below and be sure to check back for the 2024 installment.

First Responder Bowl Betting Odds


  • Opening point spread: Texas State -6.5
  • Opening moneyline: Texas State -220/Rice +180
  • Opening total: Over/Under 60.5 points scored
  • Time: 5:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, Dec. 26 (ESPN)

UPDATE 1 P.M. ET TUESDAY, DEC. 26: Line movement for the First Responder Bowl somewhat mirrors the Quick Lane Bowl. Texas State opened -6.5 at BetMGM on Dec. 3, dipped to -5.5/-4.5 on Dec. 4, then returned to -5.5 Dec. 19.

The Bobcats (7-5 SU/6-6 ATS) dipped to -4.5 again Saturday and to -3.5 Sunday. Rice (6-6 SU/8-4 ATS) is seeing 56% of spread bets/61% of spread dollars. Further, on the moneyline, it's 74% bets/62% money on the underdog Owls.

BetMGM's total opened at 60.5 and bottomed out at 58.5 multiple times this month. The number made its way back to 60.5 this morning, and it's now 59.5. The Over is taking 73% of bets/71% of money.

Click here for Vegas Insider senior reporter Patrick Everson's full College Football Bowl Odds: Spreads, Lines, Trends for Every Bowl Game.

First Responder Bowl Pick, Prediction

Action Network college football betting expert Collin Wilson offers this prediction:

In terms of handicapping the transfer portal, this is the easiest game on the board with only a single player entering in Rice cornerback Jordan Dunbar.

Texas State has been an offensive powerhouse in the Sun Belt with the infusion of head coach GJ Kinne from Incarnate Word. Quarterback TJ Finley leads an offense that's top-25 in Success Rate and Finishing Drives.

The explosiveness comes on the ground with running back Ismail Mahdi, who recorded 38 double-digit-yard runs this season while creating 47 missed tackles.

Rice will combat with backup quarterback AJ Padgett, who'll take over starting duties in Week 11 after JT Daniels' medical retirement.

The explosives and consistency have not been there the last three games, as the Owls failed to win any games against bowl teams this season.

Finley has been red hot in passing downs for the Bobcats, ranking 10th in both Success Rate and catchable throw rate.

Pick: Texas State -4.5

For more college football picks, check out Action Network's College Football Bowl Confidence Pool Rankings: Collin Wilson’s Picks for All 2023 Bowl Games.

First Responder Bowl Betting Resources

  • Date: Tuesday, December 26, 2023
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Gerald J. Ford Stadium
  • Location: Dallas, Texas

First Responder Bowl History

First Responder Bowl Logo

The First Responder Bowl, formerly known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl, began in 2011, and the matchup has conference tie-ins with the AAC, ACC, Big 12, and C-USA. The game takes place at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in University Park, Texas.

In the first eight First Responder Bowls, the winning team scored 30-plus points in all of them and eclipsed 40 or more in three of them. In 2017, Utah cruised past West Virginia, 30-14. It was the fifth consecutive bowl win for the Utes and the 14th victory in the past 15 bowl appearances since 1999.

The 2018 installment between Boise State and Boston College was canceled because of the threat of severe weather.

Western Kentucky (-3) rallied past Western Michigan for a 23-20 win in the 2019 edition, and bettors wagering on either side likely earned a push while the 'under' (56) was never in doubt.

In 2020, a heavily-favored Louisiana posted a 31-24 victory, but UTSA grabbed the cover as a 14-point underdog as the total ended up a push at most books.

The game went off on Dec. 28, 2021 despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, and Air Force (-1) posted an impressive 31-28 win over Louisville, a Power 5 team, after using a surprising blend of passing and rushing. The favorite cashed for the first time since Utah's victory in 2017.

The last two years of the First Responder Bowl have seen blowouts as Memphis crushed Utah State, 38-10 in 2022, followed by Texas State taking care of in-state rival Rice, 45-21 in 2023.

First Responder Bowl Betting History

YearMatchupLineATS Result
2023Texas State 45 Rice 21Texas State -3.5, 58.5Favorite, Over
2022Memphis 38 Utah State 10Memphis -8, 57Favorite, Under
2021Air Force 31 Louisville 28Air Force -1, 55Favorite, Over
2020Louisiana 31 UTSA 24Louisiana -14, 55Underdog, Push
2019Western Kentucky 23 Western MichiganWKU -3, 56.5Push, Under 56
2018Boston College vs. Boise State1, 50.5Canceled
2017Utah 30 West Virginia 14 Utah -7, 56Favorite, Under
2016Army 38 North Texas 31Army -10.5, 48Underdog, Over
2015Washington 44 Southern Mississippi 31Washington -8, 51.5Favorite, Over
2014Louisiana Tech 35 Illinois 17La. Tech -7, 54.5Favorite, Under
2013North Texas 36 UNLV 14North Texas -6.5, 54Favorite, Under
2012Oklahoma State 58 Purdue 14Oklahoma State -17.5, 68.5Favorite, Over
2011Houston 30 Penn State 14Houston -6.5, 55.5Favorite, Under
2010Texas Tech 45 Northwestern 38Texas Tech -7.5, 63Underdog, Over

College Football Bowl Betting Resources

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Here’s everything you need to know about College Football Playoff odds for the semis: opening lines, spreads and betting trends for each game, as multiple oddsmakers provide insights on CFP odds and action. Check back regularly for updates and use our new ESPN BET bonus code VIBONUS to get the most out of your action.

College Football Playoff Odds for Semifinals