College Football Odds, Picks for Houston vs Rice

College Football Odds, Picks for Houston vs Rice article feature image

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: JT Daniels (Rice)

Houston vs Rice Odds

Saturday, Sept. 9
7 p.m. ET
NFL Network
Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
Rice Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

After narrowly escaping against UTSA, Houston and Dana Holgorsen will turn around to face crosstown rival, Rice, which is coming off a disappointing but productive road loss to Texas. 

Although last week's results would cause one to assume that Houston is trending up while Rice is trending down, a deeper look at the analytics reveals a different story.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the odds and make a prediction for Houston vs. Rice.

Check out our NCAAF Betting Hub for more college football previews, predictions, news and analysis.

Houston Cougars

Holgorsen entered this season with a number of questions on the offensive side of the ball. The Cougars return just five starters from 2022, which includes the loss of quarterback-wide receiver duo Clayton Tune and Tank Dell.

This left Houston ranking 98th nationally in net TARP on the offensive side, and the Cougars posted just 17 points against UTSA’s defense, which has plenty of moving pieces of its own.

Although Houston came away with the win, UTSA had a post-game win expectancy of 78%. The Cougars had an average field position of 65.9 compared to the Roadrunners' 81.2.

Even with a short field, sophomore QB Donovan Smith posted a QBR of just 64.5 and averaged 2.43 points per scoring opportunity. 

Had UTSA and Frank Harris been more disciplined with the football, Houston would be sitting at 0-1 coming into this week.

Defensively, Houston was able to implement a bend-don’t-break mentality against UTSA, allowing the Roadrunners to eclipse it in total yards 417-to-334. It's also important to note that UTSA was able to generate Explosiveness rankings of 1.73 and 1.83 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, to make up for its turnover issues.

Houston’s tendency to allow explosive plays will be an advantage for JT Daniels and a Rice offense that ranks 45th nationally in Offensive Explosiveness. 

Overall, Houston’s Week 1 victory should be taken with a grain of salt, as it lines up against a very experienced Rice squad looking to bounce back.

Rice Owls

Although the outcome between Rice and Texas was never truly in doubt, there were a number of positives for the Owls, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Coming into 2023, Rice needed its seven returning starters on defense — which includes its top three tacklers — to make a major step forward. 

Against Texas, the Owls' defense was able to generate a 34.3% Havoc ranking. This level of Havoc came at crucial times, as Rice was able to hold Texas to a modest 3.38 points per scoring opportunity despite 458 yards of total offense. 

This experienced defensive unit — which ranks 25th nationally in net TARP — will benefit greatly from being able to create Havoc against a Houston offense that's clearly still trying to replace Tune and Dell. 

Similarly, Rice’s experienced offense led by Daniels has the ability to be more disciplined and not spot the Houston offense crucial extra possessions, as UTSA did.

Overall, the Owls rank eighth nationally in net TARP on offense and will look for Daniels to be an upgrade at the quarterback position from TJ McMahon, who posted an 18-to-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2022. 

Although Houston ranks inside the top 40 in net TARP on the defensive side, it ranks outside the top 70 in Success Rate, Explosiveness and Points per Opportunity.

I will look for Rice’s experience on the offensive side to be critical in exposing a Houston defense with a knack for giving up explosive plays.

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Houston vs Rice

Betting Pick & Prediction

This is a great situational spot to back Rice, as it's coming off of a loss against the toughest team on its schedule. Despite the final score, the Owls were able to get penetration on the defensive end, creating Havoc and stops against a Texas offense loaded with talent.

This defensive success will be invaluable against a Houston offense that was able to defeat UTSA despite being outgained offensively. 

On the offensive side, Daniels has the experience necessary to get the most out of a Rice offense that returns 94 starts on the offensive line, its top two receivers and four of its top five rushers.

I will happily take the points with a Rice team that's being undervalued after Week 1.

Pick: Rice +9.5 (Play to +7)

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