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Rice Owls vs. Kansas Jayhawks Free Pick 9/14/13

Kansas Jayhawks (1-0) at Rice Owls (0-1)

NCAAF Football: Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm (Rice Stadium)

The Line: Rice Owls -2 -- Over/Under: 56.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: CBS Sports Network

Storyline: Charlie Weis’ Kansas Jayhawks kicked off their 2013 campaign Saturday with an impressive 31-14 victory over South Dakota, already equaling their entre win total from a year ago. The Rice Owls, conversely, were idle last week after a 52-31 pounding against Texas A&M in week one.

The Breakdown: The debut of Jr. QB Jake Heaps was somewhat tepid statistically, with just 110 yards and one touchdown on 10-of-20 passing, but the BYU transfer did show some promise with big-time completions of 18 and 25 yards. He comes with some baggage, having been a top recruit for BYU in 2010 and then ultimately being unseated as the starter midway through the 2011 season, but he also holds a ton of upside, winning the first string job as a true freshman and passing for 2,316 yards and 16 touchdowns. Heaps was also recruited by Weis while he was at Notre Dame and there’s a mutual respect there that transcends the playing field. There’s a lot riding on Heaps’ shoulders, but he’s reportedly already got a firm grasp of Weis’ complex offensive schemes. It remains to be seen, however, what happens when the Jayhawks enter conference play in October. Kansas also fields a strong running game in Sr. James Sims, who led all running backs in Big 12 conference play last season. Against South Dakota, Sims carried 16 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Soph. Darrian Miller added 72 yards on 14 carries. Defensively, the Jayhawks stifled the South Dakota passing game, holding the Coyotes to just 67 yards through the air, but surrendered 219 yards on the ground.

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Rice Owls vs. Kansas Jayhawks Free Pick 9/14/13

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the lopsided score against Texas A&M, there were some positives for Rice. They outgained the Aggies in total yards 509-486 and rushing yards 306-202, although Johnny Manziel did sit out the first half. Sr. QB Taylor McHargue had a decent outing, passing for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18-of-29 passing and running for another 78 on 9 carries. Sr. RB Charles Ross also had good numbers, rushing for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 attempts. Defensively, the Owls did pretty much all they could against bigger, faster and deeper competition, but, if anything, they proved to be a good Conference USA team that should do well in league play.

Some betting trends to consider: Kansas is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games, 1-11 SU in its last 12 games, 1-4 ATS in its last 5 road games, and 0-5 SU in its last 5 road games. Rice is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games and 4-1 SU I its last 5 home games.

Rick’s Pick: The line is currently at -2 for Rice in this one and that’s just about right, as I don’t see much difference between these two teams. Kansas is hardly a Big 12 team in the traditional sense, but seem to have some offense, while Rice has proven they can put up points. Whether Jake Heaps is the goods or not has yet to be proven, though, so I would stay away from giving Kansas the edge here. The over seems to be the better play.

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