College Football Picks: Rice vs. Texas A&M Betting the Spread

Jeff Grant

Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:33 PM GMT

Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 12:33 PM GMT

The Texas A&M Aggies will be without the services of their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for 30 minutes Saturday, as they take on the Rice Owls at Kyle Field. How does the absence of Manziel play into where we are laying our college football picks this weekend?


Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for this non-conference matchup in the Lone Star State, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

Plenty of experience

Rice went 7-6 SU and 8-4-1 ATS during its 2012 campaign, which included an impressive 33-14 victory over Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.  

The Owls return 19 starters and have pulled off a pair of upsets against teams hailing from BCS conferences the last two years, which makes them a dangerous underdog when looking over the NCAA football betting lines this weekend.

Johnny Football 

College football handicappers found out Wednesday that Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has been suspended for the first half of this game by the NCAA, as he’s been dealing with rumors of receiving cash for signing autographs during the offseason. 

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner was the first SEC player to surpass the 5,000 total yards barrier in a season—accomplishing that feat even though he faced three teams that finished in the top 10 in total defense nationally. 

A pair of strengths to lean on 

The Owls will try to play keep away from Texas A&M in this affair, considering they welcome back four running games that gained at least 200 yards on the ground a season ago—helping the program finish No. 1 in the country in time of possession.

On the other side of the football, Rice welcomes back its top eight players in the secondary, including cornerback Philip Gaines, who led the nation with 18 pass breakups in 2012.

Starting fast

The Aggies have been a fast starter under head coach Kevin Sumlin, as they outscored their last eight opponents a season ago by a 120-3 margin in the first quarter, but I’m not sure that can be duplicated with Manziel sitting on the bench. 

Texas A&M scored a touchdown on its opening possession in its last 10 games a year ago—something to keep an eye on in the live-betting market Saturday.

[gameodds]6/241516/?r3=19-349/us&r-1=19-349/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Owls with their college football picks in this spot, as they’ve covered the number in six of their last seven games—a number that is hard to ignore with all their experience coming back. 

College Football Pick:  Rice Owls +27

Find out why Willie Bee also is picking Rice to cover the spread.

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