Rice Owls vs. Houston Cougars Gambling Odds from Bookmaker
NCAA Football Betting Favorite: Houston -27.5
Thursday night football has one of the nation’s unbeaten teams on center stage this week. The Houston Cougars are 7-0, and they will be at home to take on the Rice Owls in this one. This is actually a battle between two teams from Houston. A lot of the players on these teams have known each other their entire lives. Rice upset Houston last year, and you can bet that Houston will be looking for revenge in this one. Can the Cougars stay unbeaten?
The Rice Owls had a great 2008 under David Bailiff, but since then the team has been awful. The book on Rice is that they have quite a few talented players, but this is a team that makes far too many mental mistakes at critical times in the game. Taylor McHargue has been the starting quarterback this year, but he was pulled last weekend after throwing two interceptions in the first quarter. Nick Fanuzzi took over under center. Who will start this week? Coach Bailiff says he is still unsure who will get the nod. Rice has a multitude of talented running backs, but none of them have really gotten going that well this season.
The Owls defense was horrible last year, and they really aren’t any better this season. Rice is allowing 33 points per game in 2011. The defense has been very bad against both the pass and the run this year. The only way they will be able to slow down this Houston passing game is if they get a lot of pressure on Case Keenum.
Houston’s Case Keenum missed last season with an injury. Actually, the Cougars started a third-string quarterback for the majority of the season in 2010. Keenum is back and healthy this year, and it has made a world of difference for this Houston offense. How good has this offense been? Houston ranks first in the nation in total offense, passing offense, and points per game. The Cougars are averaging 606 yards and 49 points per contest. Michael Hayes, Bryce Beall, and Charles Sims give the Cougars a nice trio of running backs to keep the opposing defense honest. Houston has six receivers with at least 200 receiving yards so far this year. This is clearly one of the best offenses in the nation.
Houston’s defense has done a nice job of bending without breaking this year. The Cougars are ranked 80th in total defense, but they are only giving up 23.4 points per game. This is an opportunistic defense. If this unit can play well, the Cougars have a legitimate shot of going unbeaten in the regular season this year.
The Rice defense might be the worst defense Houston has played against this year. I expect Keenum and company to put up some huge numbers. It’s a big number, but I still like the over.
Free College Football Pick: Rice/Houston over 70.5
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