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Rice vs. UTEP Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Visiting Owls (November 20)

Rice vs. UTEP Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Visiting Owls (November 20) article feature image

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Gavin Hardison

  • The Rice Owls travel to El Paso on Saturday to take on the UTEP Miners.
  • The Miners enter as -9 favorites, according to updated odds.
  • Read on to see Anthony Dabbundo's best bet for Saturday's game.

Rice vs. UTEP Odds

Saturday, Nov. 20
4 p.m. ET
Rice Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Since UTEP has clinched bowl eligibility, the Miners have posted consecutive losses to UTSA and North Texas and fallen back down to expectations against the spread.

UTEP was one of the nation’s best teams against the spread in the first eight games of the season, covering all but one game and posting an impressive 6-2 record straight up.

Given how low the program was a few years ago, head coach Dana Dimel has done as good of a job turning his team around as any head coach in all of the FBS.

Next up for the Miners is a home game with Rice on Saturday in El Paso. UTEP is still receiving a lot of love from the betting market despite its recent offensive struggles.

Rice was knocked out from potential bowl eligibility last week when it lost to Western Kentucky, but the Owls have been a bit unlucky this season and are a little better than their record indicates. Overtime losses to Charlotte and North Texas could have gone differently and improved the Rice record to make it appear more formidable.

Rice Owls

The Owls’ offense is among one of the slowest in the entire nation. Trying to move the ball against UTEP could be difficult in this game.

Rice prefers to be a run-first team, but it’s not particularly effective on the ground. The Owls rank 95th in Rushing Success Rate and 87th in Offensive Line Yards. Neither of those project well against a Miners defense that has excelled at stopping the run all season — except against UTSA and Sincere McCormick.

Rice has decent counting stats for the year through the air with quarterback Jake Constantine posting at least 240 yards in each of his last three starts. But the turnovers through the air have been an issue as he’s thrown five interceptions in the last two games, including four against Western Kentucky last week.

The Owls are 74th in Passing Success Rate, but the UTEP defense’s ability to generate Havoc could cause nightmares for the Rice offense in this game. If the Owls prioritize protecting the ball, though, they’ll move the ball and be able to prevent an anemic UTEP offense from scoring lots of points.

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UTEP Miners

Like Rice, UTEP is among the slowest offenses in the country. Both teams rank in the bottom 10 in pace and UTEP’s offense is slipping across multiple key metrics in recent weeks.

For starters, UTEP is a run-first attack that cannot run the ball effectively. The Miners rank 126th in Rushing Success Rate and 127th in Line Yards.

The passing game is much better at 28th in Passing Success Rate, but it hasn’t been good the last few weeks. Quarterback Gavin Hardison has five interceptions in his last four games and has completed fewer than 50% of his passes in the last two games.

It seems as though teams are adjusting to UTEP’s inability to run the ball effectively and forcing Hardison and the passing attack to try to beat them. The results haven’t been good for UTEP, which scored most of its points in the fourth quarter when trailing by 10+ in each of the last three games.

I also wonder if the UTEP defensive numbers are a little inflated by the schedule of offenses its faced. Games against New Mexico, New Mexico State, Old Dominion and Southern Miss are giving perhaps a false impression of how good the Miners really are on defense.

One potential indicator is that PFF grades out the UTEP defense pretty poorly in both coverage and tackling, which could suggest that they’re not going to continue to post impressive Success Rate and Havoc numbers.

Rice vs. UTEP Matchup Analysis

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

Rice Offense vs. UTEP Defense
Rush Success9514
Line Yards8715
Pass Success7419
Pass Blocking**8041
Big Play9541
Finishing Drives8931
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

UTEP Offense vs. Rice Defense
Rush Success126107
Line Yards12798
Pass Success28114
Pass Blocking**9355
Big Play82111
Finishing Drives11975
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling12490
Middle 810993
SP+ Special Teams12951
Plays per Minute124121
Rush Rate58.7% (42)59.2% (35)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Rice vs. UTEP Betting Pick

The Miners were on an unbelievable run of covers early in the season as the market failed to catch up to the improvements Dimel has made with the program. Few teams have been more improved in the entire country year over year, but the market seems to have not only caught up, but overreacted to UTEP here.

They opened as a road favorite at North Texas last week and saw the market move against them, ultimately closing as a one-point underdog to the Mean Green. UTEP was largely outplayed for most of the game, even if it lost on a last-second field goal.

The market moved against them in the UTSA beatdown loss too, and after opening as a 10-point favorite in this game, Rice has shortened as an underdog here. As much as I’ve loved backing the Miners all season, they’ve been overpriced the last two weeks and continue to be overpriced now.

The defense has inflated numbers based on a weak strength of schedule, and the offense has been trending downward and relying a lot on late scores to cover games and post points of late. The Miners don’t have the offense to be nine point favorites, and if Rice protects the ball, the Owls should stay inside the number.

Pick: Rice +9.5

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