Weekly CFB Mid-Major Betting Report: Rice Owls Week 9
by Aaron Smith - 10/26/2011
We’re all the way to Week 9, and it is time for another edition of the mid-major betting report. This report comes a little earlier than normal this week, because the Rice Owls have a game on Thursday night this week. Before the season, Rice was picked at random as the team I’ll be following all season long. I’ll follow Twitter feeds, beat writers, and team press conferences to get every little bit of information possible about this team. This series is designed to show bettors that specialization can be profitable.
At the end of each report, I’ll make a selection on this week’s Rice Owls game. We will be using Doc’s Sports Unit Betting System for every pick, which will help readers follow along and track the results of these college football picks.
Last Week’s Game
It was yet another disappointing game for the Rice Owls against Tulsa. Taylor McHargue committed three turnovers in the first quarter, which put the Owls behind the eight ball right away. Tulsa jumped out to a 17-0 lead, and they went on to win, 38-20. Senior Nick Fanuzzi replaced McHargue at the quarterback spot for Rice. Fanuzzi threw for 234 yards, and more importantly, he didn’t turn the football over at all. Overall, the Owls committed four turnovers last Saturday. My selection on last week’s game was ‘over’ 58, so that one will go down as a push.
The Rice defense didn’t play all that badly last week, but it was constantly put in bad situations because of the turnovers. Tulsa’s ground game never really got going, but G.J. Kinne did carve up the Rice secondary. The running game for the Rice offense continues to be surprisingly mediocre. Rice has four or five very talented running backs, yet it seems this team can’t establish the run at all right now.
Notes of Interest
--The Houston Cougars, Rice’s opponent this week, have been piling up some amazing offensive statistics this year. Houston is first in the nation in total offense. They are also first in the nation in points per game. The Cougars are averaging 606 yards per game, which is 56 yards per game more than the second best offense (Baylor) in the nation. Case Keenum leads a terrific aerial attack for the Houston offense. Houston is averaging 453 yards per game through the air so far in 2011.
--A quarterback controversy may well be brewing at Rice. Coach Bailiff was asked at the press conference who the starting quarterback will be for this Thursday night’s game. Bailiff responded “We don’t know yet, we’ll see how practice goes.” Fanuzzi and McHargue will battle it out in practice this week, and it likely won’t be known until game time which one will be under center.
--This matchup is unique in that it is an intra-city rivalry game. These teams know each other quite well, and the players spend quite a bit of time around each other. The two campuses are less than five miles apart. This is generally the type of game where records don’t matter as much as normal, because it’s a rivalry game. The winner of this game is presented with a trophy called the Bayou Bucket.
-Rice is 1-7 ATS in their last eight road games.
-The ‘over’ is 38-14 in Rice’s last 52 road games.
-Houston is 4-0 ATS in their last four home games.
-Rice is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings with Houston.
Rice vs. Houston College Football Odds
Since this is a weeknight game, there hasn’t been as much time to look at line movement. Houston opened as a huge 27-point favorite, but the line has moved to 27.5 and even 28 at some books. The posted total has been steady at 70.5 points.
Rice vs. Houston College Football Picks
Quite honestly, Houston’s offense is a terribly difficult assignment for this Rice defense to try to slow down. This is a rivalry game, so I don’t believe laying four touchdowns is a wise thing to do.
The Cougars defense gives up yardage in chunks, and I do believe that whoever the Rice quarterback is will be able to help move the Owls offense pretty consistently. On the other side of the ball, Keenum and the Cougars offense should be far too much for the Rice defense to handle. Rice is 115th out of 120 teams in the nation in total defense, and they are up against the top-ranked offense in the country.
What’s the play in this one? Even though the number is set extremely high, my selection for this game is on ‘over’ 70.5 points. These teams have a history of playing high-scoring games against each other, and I think we’ll see another one of those this week. Keep an eye out for next week’s report, which will feature a preview and pick for the Owls game against UTEP.
The Pick is 3 Units on Rice/Houston ‘Over’ 70.5 Points (-110)
Rice Weekly Picks Season Total: 4 Wins 1 Loss and 1 Push (+$790)
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