College Football Odds, Picks for UTSA vs. Houston

College Football Odds, Picks for UTSA vs. Houston article feature image

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Frank Harris (UTSA)

UTSA vs. Houston Odds

Saturday, Sept. 2
7 p.m. ET
-115o / -105u
Houston Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

After a triple overtime thriller last year, UTSA looks to get some revenge when it travels to take on the Cougars of Houston.

UTSA has made the move to the AAC and is the favorite to win the conference after UCF, Houston and Cincinnati left for the Big 12. The Roadrunners are once again loaded on both sides of the ball, which is why you're seeing them now as a favorite against Houston.

The Cougars are going through a transition period with their two best offensive players — Clayton Tune and Tank Dell — moving onto the NFL.

With Houston making the transition to the Big 12, Dana Holgorsen brought in quite a few Power 5 transfers to try and keep Houston competitive. But in Week 1, it may be a bit of a struggle.

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UTSA Roadrunners

The Roadrunners are blessed to have Frank Harris back for another season, and he's truly one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of 5 because he's about as good of a dual-threat quarterback as it gets in college football.

Last season, Harris put up an 80.3 PFF passing grade, averaged 7.9 yards per attempt and had a 75.9% adjusted completion percentage.

Then, as a runner, he rushed for over 700 yards, nine touchdowns and averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

#CFB returns in 100 days

QB Frank Harris – UTSA

— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) May 18, 2023

The only issue that Harris needs to clean up is turning the ball over. He only threw nine picks last year, but fumbled the ball a whopping 13 times.

Harris will be in the backfield with first-team All-C-USA running back Kevorian Barnes, who averaged a ridiculous 6.3 yards per carry a season ago. Barnes forced a whopping 28 missed tackles, had 20 runs of over 10 yards and had a PFF rushing grade of 85.3.

Top receiver Zakhari Franklin is gone, but Harris gets back his other top four pass catchers, including second-team All-CUSA WR Joshua Cephus, who caught 87 balls for 985 yards last season.

The offensive line was a mess last season due to injuries. For the first half of the season, they were down their top four offensive linemen but were still winning games. This year, they get 63 starts back on the offensive line and added three JUCO transfers to help give them depth.

The defense for UTSA was one of the best in the G5. The unit finished the season 10th in the nation in Success Rate Allowed, 17th in Finishing Drives Allowed and 14th in Havoc. The Roadrunners return eight guys on defense but lose three of their top four tacklers and two really good corners, so they may take a step back.

Houston Cougars

Holgorsen will have some work on his hands with the offense. His offensive coordinator from last season — Shannon Dawson — left to take the same job at Miami, and Holgorsen has said he'll be calling plays going forward.

The Cougars will have a new quarterback in Donovan Smith, who comes in via Texas Tech. He started four games for the Red Raiders and really wasn't that great of a passer. He only had a PFF passing grade of 65.1, he averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt and posted only six big-time throws compared to 11 turnover-worthy plays.

Houston will also have to deal with the loss of Dell, who caught 109 balls and 17 touchdowns a season ago. The next closest receiver in terms of receptions was Samuel Brown with 41, so there are going to be some growing pains for the Cougars' passing attack.

Holgorsen went into the transfer portal and tried to upgrade the running back position, going to his old stomping grounds to bring in Tony Mathis Jr. from West Virginia. Mathis only averaged 4.2 yards per carry, but is a very elusive back, as he forced 33 missed tackles and had 15 runs over 10+ runs in 2022.

They also have their top two rushers — Stacy Sneed and Brandon Campbell — back, so it may be a three-man attack.

The Cougars' defense was pretty bad in 2022; they finished 93rd in EPA/Play Allowed, 69th in Finishing Drives Allowed and 71st in Success Rate Allowed. They return seven starters but lose both of their starting safeties and their top linebacker.

They didn't really do much to replace those losses, so it's hard to see them slowing down Harris.

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UTSA vs Houston

Betting Pick & Prediction

UTSA has almost everybody back on the offensive side of the ball after being one of the best units in the G5. Harris can really cause a lot of problems against a Houston defense that loses a lot of production from last season.

Houston may end up being an efficient offense, but in the first game with a new quarterback, this isn't a great spot for it, even at home.

I have UTSA projected as a -4.2 favorite, so I like the value on the Roadrunners at -1.5 or better.

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