College Football Odds & Picks for Houston vs. Rice: Why to Bet the Under in This Week 2 Battle (Sept. 11)

College Football Odds & Picks for Houston vs. Rice: Why to Bet the Under in This Week 2 Battle (Sept. 11) article feature image

(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

  • The Houston Cougars and Rice Owls take the field in Saturday night college football action.
  • The over/under holds value in this Week 2 matchup, according to Alex Kolodziej.
  • Check out Kolodziej's full betting preview, complete with updated odds and a pick below.

Houston vs. Rice Odds

Saturday, Sept. 11
6:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
Rice Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Two Group of Five teams off deflating losses to Power 5 clubs in Week 1 square off for a Texas clash. Houston's laying a touchdown and a hook over Rice, with a total of 52.5.

Here's everything bettors need to know for the non-conference tilt, including why the total is off.

Houston Cougars

Everyone and their mother bet Houston in the opener against Texas Tech. The Cougars opened as underdogs and closed as 2.5-point favorites, only to get roasted in the second half in a 38-21 beatdown.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen is 1-5 Against the Spread (ATS) in his last six games dating back to 2020, while the Cougars are 4-11 ATS the last 15 laying chalk away from home.

Cougars Offense

Quarterback Clayton Tune entered the year with 19 interceptions over his last 15 starts. He picked up right where he left off in the opener, throwing four more picks against Texas Tech.

The Cougars had two big voids to fill at wide receiver following the departures of Marquez Stevenson and Keith Corbin. They landed a couple transfers in Seth Green (Minnesota) and KeSean Carter (Texas Tech), but those two combined for just a pair of catches and 18 receiving yards against the Red Raiders.

Houston, which didn't score a single point in the second half, clocked out 79th in EPA/play (-0.123).

Cougars Defense

The Cougars returned virtually everyone this year, including four of their five top tacklers. They also finished second in the conference in sacks.

Houston's defense allowed a couple big runs for touchdowns to Texas Tech, including one in garbage time. The game realistically shouldn't have been close to touching the closing total of 63.

Although Red Raiders quarterback Tyler Shough had a field day on the stat sheet, Houston wound up 16th in EPA/pass allowed (-0.324) following Week 1.

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Rice Owls

Rice nearly played spoiler in the opener against Arkansas, to no avail. The Owls coughed up a 17-7 lead, the Razorbacks ripped off 31 straight and Rice didn't even get the consolation prize of covering as 19.5-point underdogs.

However, Rice is competing. And this is exactly what we saw last season despite a 2-3 record.

Head coach Mike Bloomgren took down a Top-25 team in Marshall and took eventual Conference USA champ UAB down to the wire in 2020.

Owls Offense

Quarterback Wiley Green connected with August Pitre III on a 41-yard touchdown strike early in the third to go up 17-7.

The highlight reel starts and ends there.

Green threw three picks in the fourth quarter, the offense posted the seventh-worst EPA/play in the nation and the Owls still haven't beaten a Power 5 club since 2013.

Rice won't get that opportunity Saturday, but it'll ride a defense that's quietly red-hot.

Owls Defense

Rice held stout against an SEC offense, allowing just 128 passing yards and a decent 5.6 yards per play. However, the 38 points surrendered ruins a beautiful streak for the defense.

Prior to Saturday, Rice had held nine of its last 10 opponents under their team total; the lone exception was an overtime game against Middle Tennessee in 2020.

A unit that ranked 12th in the country in points per game allowed last season is loaded with depth, and shouldn't be fazed by an AAC offense in this spot.

Houston vs. Rice Matchup Analysis

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

Houston Offense vs. Rice Defense




Rushing Success
Passing Success
Line Yards
Sack Rate
Finishing Drives

Rice Offense vs. Houston Defense




Rushing Success
Passing Success
Line Yards
Sack Rate
Finishing Drives

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
Rush Rate
49.7% (98)
61.9% (16)
Seconds per Play
Special Teams SP+

Data via College Football Data (CFBD) and FootballOutsiders; SP+ projection per ESPN.

Houston vs. Rice Betting Pick

This is a prime spot to play the under behind Bloomgren, who has cashed six straight when Rice is getting points at home.

Houston's always perceived as a points-y team under Holgerson, but a veteran defense stood out in the opener.  Rice's offense isn't efficient enough to consistently move the ball. The Cougars' eighth-ranked sack rate defense should make a living in the Owls' backfield.

Rice's defense, meanwhile, is a sneaky-terrible matchup for Tune. The Owls create the 11th-most havoc and get a quarterback who's thrown 23 picks in the last 16 starts.

It's feasting season for both defenses.

Pick: Under 52.5 (Play to 50.5)

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