College Football Picks: Houston vs. Louisville

Jeff Grant

Friday, November 15, 2013 3:16 PM GMT

The Louisville Cardinals haven’t played in front of the home fans in 29 days, as they prepare to take on the Houston Cougars Saturday. Have the lines been set too high in this matchup, or are they ripe for the picking?

Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for this American Athletic Conference matchup at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

Be sure to check out our College Football Picks: Week 12 Betting Odds Report.

Looking to bounce back

Houston suffered its second loss of the 2013 season last time out, as it dropped a 19-14 decision to the UCF Knights as 13.5-point road underdogs, while going UNDER the betting total for the first time in four contests. 

The Cougars are led offensively by quarterback John O’Korn, who recorded a season-low passer rating of 92.8 against the Knights, but he still leads all true freshman with 23 touchdown strikes. 

Returning home 

Louisville returns to this venue after picking up a pair of wins on the road, including a 31-10 victory over the Connecticut Huskies as 27.5-point favorites on Nov. 8, while going UNDER the betting total in each of those affairs. 

The Cardinals offense might be ready to explode, considering it averages 44.8 points per game, and is led by one of the best players in college football.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ranks fourth nationally with a 182.9 passer rating, which has played a major part in the team averaging 481.2 yards per game. 

Turnovers

College football handicappers may have an interest in backing the road underdog, as the Cougars enter with a plus-21 turnover margin, which is the best such mark in that statistical category nationally. 

Houston free safety Trevon Stewart is the player to watch on defense—tallying a combined eight interceptions and fumble recoveries. 

Don’t forget about the defense

Everyone focuses so much attention on Bridgewater, but Louisville’s defense is tied with Alabama for the country’s best scoring defense in allowing just 10.6 points per game. 

Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith leads the nation in averaging 1.17 sackers per game, which is just ahead of Stanford’s Trent Murphy in that category.

[gameodds]6/249253/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Prediction 

I’m going to recommend that readers play the total with their college football picks, as the OVER is 26-9-1 in the Cougars’ last 36 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous contest. 

College Football Pick:  Over 57.5