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The Houston Cougars and the BYU Cougars met in a thriller last season, a 47-46 shootout that featured 45 points in the first quarter. BYU has had no problems scoring, while Houston had just seven points in their opener against UTSA before hanging 47 points on Grambling State. This will be the first home game for BYU and after two impressive road victories, the Cougars are happy to be back where they have a great home-field advantage.

Houston v. BYU College Football Preview

Date/Time: Thursday September 11, 9:00 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb

College Football Betting Favorite: BYU -17.5

Total: 57.5

BYU enters this game with a 2-0 record against the number, while Houston is looking for their first spread victory of the season. Houston covered in last season’s matchup as a 10-point underdog. Bronco Mendenhall is 27-19 against the spread as a home favorite and Tony Levine is 4-1 ATS when getting points on the road, including 3-0 last season. BYU is 46-9 straight up at home under Mendenhall.

Houston Cougars:

The season hasn’t started quite as the Houston Cougars envisioned it. They certainly expected to be 2-0 entering this game and it hasn’t started out the way oddsmakers thought either. Houston was an 11.5-point underdog in Games of the Year lines over the summer and both teams have seen their power ratings adjusted early in the season. Houston was due some regression after last season’s +25 turnover margin and they were -5 against UTSA. John O’Korn and Deontay Greenberry still form a dangerous connection, but it’s hard to see Houston matching BYU’s physicality in this matchup to give O’Korn time to throw. He has only completed 52.2 percent of his passes and Greenberry is the only receiver with more than 70 yards receiving on the season. For one reason or another, this offense has not fully clicked.

BYU Cougars:

Taysom Hill is making a strong Heisman case already with eight touchdowns through two games. The BYU Cougars have had two impressive road victories and are missing some key parts of the offense. Jamaal Williams returned for Week 2, but he missed Week 1 with a suspension. Devon Blackmon and Nick Kurtz have yet to play for BYU and those are two guys that were expected to contribute big numbers in the passing game. The front lines for BYU have been so good that the losses of linebacker Kyle Van Noy and wide receiver Cody Hoffman have not been noticeable as of yet. The Houston offense will provide the first true test for BYU’s senior-laden secondary, including Jordan Johnson, who missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL. Except for a shaky kicking game, there aren’t many flaws on this BYU team.

Free Pick: BYU Cougars -17.5

This is a huge number to lay, especially given the preseason number, but the BYU Cougars have a tremendous home-field advantage because of the altitude and that’s a problem for Houston in this game. BYU ran 115 plays when these two met last season and anything close to that could turn this game into a major runaway for the home team. Houston’s offense hasn’t been up to par and there’s not a whole lot of optimism that it will round into form against BYU.

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