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Donovan Smith of the Houston Cougars throws a pass against the UTSA Roadrunners, and we offer our top predictions for Houston vs. Rice based on the best college football odds.
Donovan Smith of the Houston Cougars throws a pass against the UTSA Roadrunners. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images via AFP.

Our top Houston-Rice prediction looks at the Week 2 battle for the coveted Bayou Bucket. Read on as we assess the value in the best college football odds.

While Houston has traditionally dominated the Bayou Bucket rivalry between Houston and Rice, we watched the Owls put up a strong fight on the road last season.

Is Rice capable of winning this year's trophy after a disappointing season-opening victory for the Cougs, or can it beat that spread as an underdog in this in-state rivalry?

Here is our best Houston vs. Rice prediction and college football picks (odds via our best college football betting sites; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Houston vs. Rice prediction: Week 2

Rice +9.5 (-106 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐

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With a week of college football in the books, the sides in the Bayou Bucket rivalry don’t present all too differently in ESPN’s Football Power Index efficiency rankings. Houston merely survived in a 17-14 win over UTSA in its first game, landing the Cougars at 60th in the total efficiency metric.

Rice took a 37-10 beating against Texas, but it certainly could have been worse for the Owls on the road in Austin. Rice covered that spread against the Longhorns and landed 67th on the FPI total efficiency rankings following the outcome.

After Houston struggled to muster much offense against a UTSA defense (32nd in defensive efficiency) that FPI currently has ranked below Rice (21st in defensive efficiency), Saturday could be a recipe for the Owls to make things ugly for the Cougars once again.

Though a low-scoring affair doesn’t necessarily guarantee Rice anything in the conversation for the trophy that Houston has claimed in seven straight matchups dating back to 2011, it would serve to keep the Owls hanging around within a 9.5-point spread that feels too lofty given Rice’s recent success against the spread at Rice Stadium. The Owls went 4-2 ATS at home last season, including 2-1 ATS as home underdogs.

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Houston vs. Rice best odds

FanDuel: Rice +9.5 (-106)

DraftKings FanDuel BetMGM Caesars bet365
Rice +9.5 Rice +9.5 Rice +9.5 Rice +9.5 Rice +9.5
-108 -106 -110 -110 -110

Although we’d love to see this thing get hooked to +10, there’s value on Rice at +9.5 across the board at our best sports betting apps.

BetMGM, Caesars, and bet365 offer lower quality odds at -110, so try to get this pick in at FanDuel (-106) or DraftKings (-108) for a slight boost.

If you’re following our expectations for a lower-scoring game and considering parlaying the underdog Rice with Under the total, do so at DraftKings (Under 52.5) rather than FanDuel (Under 51.5). On the spread, we like Rice as a three-star play to +8.5.

For the best Houston vs. Rice odds, check out our exclusive FanDuel promo code!

Houston vs. Rice odds

Houston vs. Rice odds analysis

Houston opened as a 9.5-point favorite and has remained lodged in that spot across the board, although DraftKings and FanDuel have pushed the odds more heavily toward the Cougars from a standard -110. Houston is seeing 63% of spread wagers in this matchup.

The total opened at 51.5 but has moved to 52.5 at DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM. FanDuel has kept the total at 51.5 but with -115 odds on Over. Roughly 60% of wagers on the total have come in on Over.

Houston vs. Rice game info

  • When: Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. ET
  • Where: Rice Stadium, Houston, TX
  • How to watch: NFL Network
  • Weather: 94 Degrees, 10 mph Winds, 24% chance of precipitation

Houston-Rice prediction made Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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