Kansas vs. Houston Odds, Picks: Why it’s Time to Sell High on Jayhawks
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Pictured: Clayton Tune (Houston)
- Kansas attempts to remain undefeated when it takes on Houston on Saturday in Week 3 of college football.
- The Jayhawks have scored 111 points in two games, including one on the road at West Virginia.
- Will they keep it going against the Cougars? Brad Cunningham breaks it all down.
Kansas vs. Houston Odds
Kansas, yes Kansas football, looks to remain undefeated when it heads on the road to take on future Big 12 foe Houston.
The Kansas Jayhawks are 2-0 to start the college football season and are coming off of a 55-42 overtime win over West Virginia in Morgantown.
The Jayhawks win total was a puny 2.5, so they have 10 games to hit the over. This is year two under Lance Leipold and after winning only two games in 2021, Kansas is definitely heading in the right direction.
Houston has been the cardiac kids in 2022, playing in back-to-back multi-overtime games, with a 37-35 win over UTSA and a 33-30 loss at Texas Tech. The Cougars are pegged as one the favorites in the American Conference and have an incredibly exciting offense, which will be on display on Saturday.
Leipold brought his rush-heavy offense over from Buffalo, but the Jayhawks did not have a lot of success on the ground in 2021.
Kansas was outside the top 90 in Rushing Success Rate, Rushing Explosiveness, Offensive Line yards and Power Success Rate last season.
Nine offensive starters return with quarterback Jalon Daniels and running back Devin Neal leading the rushing attack. Against West Virginia, who lost most of its front seven from last season, Kansas ran for an impressive 200 yards and 5.6 yards per carry.
Daniels basically only had one good game as a passer in 2021, and it was the win against Texas. He struggled in every other game, and did not have a PFF passing grade over 60.
He also lost his go-to receiver, Kwamie Lassiter II, who had 32 more catches than anyone else on the team last year.
The Kansas defense was a mess last year. The Jayhawks finished the season 128th in Success Rate Allowed, 127th in Finishing Drives Allowed, 127th in EPA/Play Allowed, 129th in Havoc and allowed their opponents to average 7.4 yards per play.
Quite simply, this was the worst Power Five defense in college football.
The positives are Kansas should improve in the front seven. Kyron Johnson, the Jayhawks' best pass rusher, is gone, but Kansas added one of the best pass rushers from the MAC last season in Lonnie Phillips.
The linebacking core remains intact and also added three Power Five transfers, so Kansas should improve. However, don't get overly optimistic. This defense is still really bad.
The Jayhawks only have one starter returning from a secondary that allowed opposing quarterbacks to average 9.4 yards per attempt in 2021.
JT Daniels threw all over them last weekend for 9.1 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. So, what makes you think they are going to stop Clayton Tune and Tank Dell?
Houston has a fantastic offense led by Tune, who is back for his senior season after an amazing junior year in which he put up a 91.4 PFF passing grade, averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and threw for 30 touchdowns.
Now, he had maybe the worst game of his college career this past Saturday in Lubbock, but he's now facing a Kansas defense that was dead last in EPA/Play Allowed among Power Five defenses in 2021.
Clayton Tune DEEP to Tank Dell🚀🚀
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 10, 2022
Tune has his No. 1 target back in Tank Dell, who had 90 catches, 1,329 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Dell's 88.8 PFF receiving grade was ninth best in college football for receivers who saw more than 100 targets last season.
Dell had 120 yards on just seven catches against Texas Tech last weekend.
Houston's run game was really the reason why it was 50th in EPA/Play. The Cougars averaged only 3.9 yards per carry and were 115th in Rushing Success Rate in 2021.
They only ran the ball for 3.0 yards per carry against Texas Tech and 3.2 yards per carry against UTSA, so they are going be reliant on Tune to torch Kansas through the air.
Houston's defense is the main reason why it went 12-2 last season. The Cougars finished the season ninth in EPA/Play, allowed only 4.9 yards per play (16th in FBS) and were fourth in Success Rate Allowed.
Houston does have two starters back and lost a pair of First Team All-AAC players, but this is still a really good run defense.
UTSA's running backs only had 45 yards rushing on 19 carries, then the Cougars went on the road and held Texas Tech to 2.7 yards per carry in a game in which Texas Tech handed the ball off 44 times.
Part of the reason why they are still so good against the run is because the linebacking core has its top tackler, Donavan Mutin, back in the lineup. Kansas is going to have difficulties running the ball, which means Houston is going to put pressure on Daniels to win with his arm.
The Houston secondary gets back First Team All-AAC safety Gervarrius Owens, but the superstar cornerback tandem that combined for more than 100 tackles, six interceptions and 22 PBUs is gone, which is a big loss.
However, having both starting safeties back will be big in protecting the two new cornerbacks and helping defend Kansas' perimeter runs.
Kansas vs. Houston Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kansas and Houston match up statistically:
Kansas Offense vs. Houston Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Houston Offense vs. Kansas Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||87||45|
|Seconds per Play||27.3 (89)||24.2 (32)|
|Rush Rate||57.9% (41)||50.7% (71)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Kansas vs. Houston Betting Pick
Houston's front seven has a major advantage against Kansas' rush-heavy attack.
The Cougars' passing game is also going up against what was one of the worst secondaries in college football last year. Add those up, and I think the time is right to sell high on Kansas.
I have the Cougars projected at -14.8, so I like the value on them at -9 (BetMGM), and I would play it up to -10.