Rice-UTEP College Football Picks: Bet Owls' to Soar Friday Night

Steven Suarez

Thursday, November 5, 2015 4:08 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 4:08 PM UTC

It hasn't been all that good of a season for the Owls, but they've been installed as the favorites on the college football odds board for Friday night's game against UTEP.

Odds Overview
Current college football odds show the Owls favored by either 6.5 or 7 points, depending on the sportsbook you check. Rice is a -270 favorite on the moneyline, while the total is trading at 58.5 points.

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UTEP Miners
It's been a rough season for the Miners, as they've recorded a 3-5 win-loss record over their first eight games. Entering Friday, they've gone just 1-3 over their last four, so confidence may be a little shaky for this home showdown with Rice. 

Last week, UTEP couldn't get much of anything going in a 34-13 loss to Southern Miss. Mack Leftwich was 16-of-32 for 197 yards but was unable to log a touchdown throw, with LaQuintus Dowell (17 rushes for 52 yards and a TD) the only member of the Miners to reach pay dirt. The team's other six points came on two field goals in the heavy defeat. On the other side of the ball, UTEP wasn't able to slow down opposing QB Nick Mullens whatsoever, as he threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns. 

As you can see, the Miners are in a bad way right now, although it should be noted that Leftwich, overall, has been the better option at quarterback than Ryan Metz, who had a 6:6 TD:INT ratio. Leftwich has four touchdowns against only one interception, so he's been making less mistakes, but the UTEP offense is still having a lot of trouble moving up and down the field. We'll have to see if they can find more success on Friday at home to Rice.


Rice Owls
The Owls were unable to notch their third straight win last week, as they fell 42-17 at home to a strong Louisiana Tech team. The Bulldogs may be flying under the radar, but make no mistake about it: they've been pretty darn good offensively this season, so it wasn't all that surprising to see them outmatch Rice from start to finish.

It was a brutal defensive display from the Owls, who allowed Jeff Driskel to carve them apart. He finished 17-of-26 for 320 yards and four touchdowns, with running back Kenneth Dixon (92 rushing yards and two scores) also having success. For Rice, Driphus Jackson threw for 180 yards and two TDs, but the offense just wasn't able to keep pace with Driskel company, and the defense was essentially non-existent.

We're expecting much better things out of the Owls on Friday night. Jackson has been solid this season, posting a 13:4 TD:INT ratio, and Rice typically is able to find a lot more success on the ground. Ahead of this week's showdown with UTEP, the Owls have racked up 1,466 total rushing yards to go with 17 touchdowns, and there's no reason to expect them to struggle against a bad Miners team.


NCAA Football Pick
To be honest, we're not high on either one of these teams at all, but we think Rice has shown to be more productive offensively, and therefore we'll back the road team on this occasion.

Indeed, this may be more of a fade of UTEP than anything else. The Miners are averaging a paltry 21.0 points per game on the season, while allowing a whopping 38.6 points a contest on average heading into Friday night. Those numbers don't bode well for UTEP, regardless of the fact they'll be at home.

Clearly, oddsmakers believe Rice to be the clear-cut better team, and we're inclined to lay the number and back them to win by at least a touchdown here. The Owls should control the tempo of this game with their sound run game, and that should be enough for them to cover.

College Football Pick: Rice -6.5 at TheGreek

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