Rice vs. Houston Odds, Picks: Bet Owls as Double-Digit Underdog

Rice vs. Houston Odds, Picks: Bet Owls as Double-Digit Underdog article feature image

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Rice tight end Jack Bradley.

  • Rice heads across the city to take on Houston in a crosstown college football battle on Saturday.
  • The Owls are coming off of a big outright victory over Louisiana as double-digit underdogs last week and find themselves in the same situation again.
  • Check out CJ Vogel's betting guide and pick for Saturday's crosstown college football game below.

Rice vs. Houston Odds

Saturday, Sept 24
6 p.m. ET
Rice Odds
-110o / -110u
Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

It's a battle for all of the city's bragging rights this weekend between Rice and Houston on Saturday evening.

As a result, not only will a lot be on the line pride-wise, but both teams are also looking to stay — or get — on the right track for the remainder of the season.

Rice is flying as high as it can fly this season with a 2–1 start to the season with its only loss coming at the hands of Lincoln Riley's USC squad. As double-digit underdogs last weekend, the Owls ended up outright winners over Louisiana by the score of 33–21.

Meanwhile, you could say things are not doing too hot for the Houston Cougars. Insert any and all "Lost to Kansas" jokes you want for Dana Holgorsen's squad because that is exactly what happened last weekend.

A line sitting at 17.5 is enough for a play, and it's time for a deeper dive into where your money should go on Saturday night.

Rice Owls

A double-digit win as a double-digit underdog was a good way to end Week 3 for Rice.

Momentum is on the side of the Owls, and their defense is rolling. Listen, we aren't going to look at the USC game — it is Rice, after all. But we are going to look at the last two games, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Rice has allowed just 15.5 PPG the last two weeks and is coming off a performance against ULL in which it allowed just 4.1 yards per passing attempt and gave up just 175 total yards. That's an elite performance, regardless of opponent.

Now, let's look at ourselves in the mirror here and be real. Will Rice repeat this weekend as a double-digit dog taking home a W? Probably not — especially with quarterback TJ McMahon giving out interceptions like it was Halloween candy. With six interceptions on the year and three coming last week, that's certainly something to keep an eye on once more.

However, the Owls rank 12th in expected explosive plays vs. the Houston defense this week, per Action Analytics. That's enough for me to think the big plays will come and keep the Owls moving down the field enough to put points on the board.

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Houston Cougars

Let's get something straight about this Houston team right away — it can't tackle. Through three games this season, the Cougars have amassed 50 missed tackles, per PFF — a big reason why the defense ranks 120th out of 131 FBS programs in scoring defense at 38.67 points per game allowed.

I mentioned those explosive plays for Rice. Well, even the intermediate stuff might be a problem for UH.

Clayton Tune has attempted nearly 30% of his passes behind the line of scrimmage this season. That may seem fine to get his playmakers the ball quickly with the opportunity to make plays after the catch. However, the issue comes with a sticky Rice defense that missed just three tackles against a solid ULL team.

Tune doesn't do well when blitzed, either. He recorded just one completion on 17 dropbacks when under pressure last week. Rice is averaging 17.7 pressures on the quarterback per game this season. Led by All-Conference USA defensive end Ikenna Enechukwu, it might be another long evening for the Houston offense.

Houston has been a terribly disciplined football team to begin the season. In all three games to start its 2022 campaign, the Cougars have committed double-digit penalties and frankly, were a two-point conversion away from starting the season 0–3.

Rice vs. Houston Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Rice and Houston match up statistically:

Rice Offense vs. Houston Defense
Rush Success5879
Line Yards9369
Pass Success10971
Pass Blocking**615
Finishing Drives10861
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Houston Offense vs. Rice Defense
Rush Success70125
Line Yards42121
Pass Success7952
Pass Blocking**4453
Finishing Drives4290
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling106110
PFF Coverage7461
SP+ Special Teams4125
Seconds per Play31.4 (128)24.3 (28)
Rush Rate56.0% (55)52.3% (78)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Rice vs. Houston Betting Pick

I won't sugarcoat anything. Houston should absolutely win this game.

But winning by 18 seems like too tall of a feat with a defense that proved it can't get off the field. It allowed Kansas to convert seven of its 12 third-down attempts last week.

I'm not a believer in the Cougars' offensive attack this season and believe the offensive line will be an issue against this Rice front.

Houston is the home team, but as I mentioned, it will be a crosstown battle. The Rice faithful — however many of them there are — won't have to travel to see their team in action this weekend.

Take the Owls +17.5, and bet it down to 16.5, I can't see a way this game isn't within two scores entering the fourth quarter.

Pick: Rice +17.5 (Play to +16.5)

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