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Houston Cougars vs. Rice Owls Free Pick - 9/21/13

Rice Owls (1-1) at Houston Cougars (2-0)

NCAAF Football: Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Reliant Stadium)

The Line: Houston Cougars -4 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: FOX Sports

Reliant Stadium will be rocking when the Houston Cougars and the Rice Owls take the field.

Houston looks to begin 2013 at 3-0 after squeezing by Temple 22-13 on the road. This was a game where the numbers really didn't add up with the Cougars enjoying a 524-300 advantage in yardage yet needing a touchdown with just over a minute remaining to ice this one. The Cougars moved the ball between the 20's in any manner they chose but stalled when they smelled the end zone and wound up with five field goals instead of touchdowns. Ryan Jackson paced a productive rushing attack with 109 yards and Kenneth Farrow added 78 yards. The air game was a two headed situation with Dave Piland (6-17/72) struggling with John O'Korn (23-31/233) carrying the load. The defense held their own and forced three giveaways as they waited for their O to put up some points.

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Houston Cougars vs. Rice Owls Free Pick - 9/21/13

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I might be in the minority but I believe Rice is a decent team and have a legitimate shot at going Bowling in 2013. The Owls have a schedule that is managable if they stay healthy and win the games they are supposed to. They did just that with 23-14 victory over Kansas in week three behind defense and a solid ground game. The Owls defense gave up just 270 yards, forced two turnovers including a pick six and held the Jayhawks to 6-17 on third down. The offense didn't rack up the yards but were strong on the ground with Charles Ross providing the muscle with 157 yards on 27 carries including an eight yard TD run. The air proved to be more challenging with Taylor McHarque completing 14-31 for 168 yards and a pair of picks in a dismal performance.

If Rice is going to have a chance here, they need McHarque to complete throws to his own team and run the ball well to give the defense a chance against the Cougars offense. A lot of things have to fall in to place but I'll take the field goal and Rice...

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