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UCF at Houston odds, picks and prediction

Geoff Clark
USA Today Sportsbookwire

The UCF Knights (3-2 overall, 2-2 AAC) visit the "Space City" Saturday to play American Athletic Conference foe Houston Cougars (2-1, 2-0) at TDECU Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. Below, we analyze the UCF-Houston college football betting odds and lines, with picks and predictions.

UCF at Houston: Betting odds, spread and lines

Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports' betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated at 2:58 a.m. ET.

  • Money line : UCF -143 (bet $143 to win $100) | Houston +120 (bet $100 to win $120)
  • Against the spread/ATS : UCF -3 (-106) | Houston +3 (-115)
  • Over/Under : 81.5 (O: -110 | U: -110)

UCF at Houston: Three things to know

  1. TDECU Stadium has been approved for a 25% capacity (roughly10,000 fans) per game for the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
  2. Each side comes in off of a win last week: Houston beat and covered against Navy 37-21, while UCF beat Tulane 51-34 but couldn't cover as a 21-point favorite. UCF beat Houston last season 44-29 but failed to cover the 22-point line.
  3. It's Dana Holgorsen's second season as head coach of Houston (6-9 overall record) following an eight-year stint at the helm of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Josh Heupel is in his third season as head coach of UCF and has compiled a 25-6 overall record with a 1-1 bowl game record.

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UCF at Houston: Odds, prediction, betting lines and picks

Prediction

Houston 41, UCF 35

Money line (ML)

The weather is going to be nice in Houston (+120) and both offenses should have success in the passing game. UCF (-139) has the sixth-most yards per play of any team that's played more than one game and QB Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 400-plus yards in four of the Golden Knights' five games.

Somehow Navy passed for 206 yards on Houston and it is 95th in opponent's passing yards per attempt. However, both teams will have trouble running the ball and Houston's defensive line is much nastier. They are ninth in line yards per carry (UCF is 46th), sixth in both stuff rate (UCF is 27th) and sack rate (UCF is 62nd).

Houston's edge in pass rushing, run-stopping and opponent's third-down conversion percentage will help Houston dictate the pace of this game, which is crucial when playing the most up-tempo team in the nation. UCF is averaging a college football-high of 91.8 plays per game.

TAKE HOUSTON ( +120) to pull off a home upset.

Against the spread (ATS)

I'd prefer the spread or at least split the bet in half and BET HOUSTON +3 (-115). Especially if the Cougars are getting a full field goal. The UCF -3 (-106) side is getting 89% of the money wagered ( Pregame.com/game-center ), but the line has only moved a half-point in Houston's direction.

Also, UCF is 0-4 ATS in their last four games as a favorite and just 1-4 ATS this season. Holgorsen will coach up Houston's offense against a weak UCF defense that is 90th in opponent's yards per game.

Over/Under (O/U)

I "LEAN" UNDER 81.5 (-110) mostly because the combined Over/Under record of UCF-Houston is 7-1. Neither team's pass defense has looked good to start the season and that's concerning.

But UCF has allowed 200-plus rushing yards in three of its five games and that'll help Houston keep its offense on the field. The best way for Houston to win this game is to take the air out of the ball.

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