With Revenge In Mind & A More Experienced Team Pick Owls Over Hilltoppers

Rice Owls cheerleaders

Ross Benjamin

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 5:30 PM GMT

Our college football betting expert discusses Thursday’s Conference USA battle between Rice and Western Kentucky. Go inside to read this enlightening betting article concluded with a college football pick.

CUSA Foes Meet in Thursday Season Opener
Rice and Western Kentucky will square off in what will be the season opener for both teams. The opening kickoff at Houchens-Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Kentucky is slated for 8:00 PM ET. Western Kentucky hammered Rice on the road last season by a lopsided score of 49-10.

Current college football betting odds at Bovada has Western Kentucky as a 17.0-point favorite. At the time of this writing, Bovada didn’t have a total posted. Looking at my list of best sportsbooks, BetOnline displayed a total of 62.5. 

 

Reestablishing Momentum at Rice
The Rice Owls finished 5-7 a season ago and failed to reach a bowl game for the first time in four years. As a matter of fact, their run of three straight bowl appearances marked a first time in Rice football program history in which that feat was accomplished.

The good news is Rice returns 15 starters, including 9 on defense. The bad news, their defense was horrible last year, ranking #102 in yards allowed at a hefty 447.4 yards per game. The stop unit can help themselves significantly if they can force more turnovers in 2016. Last season, Rice intercepted just 2 passes, and recovered only 8 fumbles. Contrarily, their offense turned the ball over 22 times. That -12 margin was 119th nationally.

The Owls offense was far from horrible last season, averaging a very respectable 401.8 yards per game. With 7 returning starters on that side of the ball, one has to think they can improve upon last year’s numbers this time around.

 

Hilltoppers Rolling Under Jeff Brohm
Jeff Brohm is set to begin his third season as head coach at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers have gone 20-7 through his first two years in charge, including an 11-2 mark a season ago, and it was capped off by a Conference USA Championship Game win over Southern Miss.

Brohm will have the unenviable task of replacing record setting quarterback Brandon Doughty who was lost to graduation. Doughty tossed 97 touchdown passed over the last two seasons, and threw for nearly 10,000 yards as well. As of today, junior transfer Mike White will assume the role of starting quarterback. White is a former two-year starter at South Florida. However, White’s numbers during that period were less than inspiring. Nevertheless, Western Kentucky returns all five starters on the offensive line from last year. Additionally, their leading rusher and top wide receiver are also back for another season.

 

Final Analysis and Pick
Rice is an experienced team, and will be playing with big time revenge as a result of last season’s humiliating home loss to Western Kentucky. I’ve yet to personally wager on this game. Nonetheless, my early lean is toward the sizable road underdog, and there’s a distinct possibility they’ll be one of my Thursday college football picks.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Rice +16 -105
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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