This Saturday the Arizona Wildcats (1-0) will host the Houston Cougars (0-0). Kickoff is set for 10:30 EST at Arizona Stadium in Tucson and will be televised on ESPNU.
Oddsmakers currently have the Cougars listed as a 1-point road favorite with the total at 69.5-points. Click here for a full list of the Week 2 betting lines and links to game previews.
Houston vs Arizona Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview
Due to Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s season opener against UTSA was postponed and will not be made up. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cougars respond to the adversity. You have to wonder just how much time they have had to focus on football, though given the struggles of several other Texas schools, it might have been a good thing they didn’t play.
This will be Houston’s first game under head coach Major Applewhite, who has the difficult task of replacing Tom Herman and his 22-5 record over the last 2 years. Applewhite has been with the program the past two seasons and gets back 15 starters from last year’s team.
Arizona cruised to a 62-24 win as they covered as a 24.5-point home favorite against FCS foe Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks made it interesting early, as they trailed 14-21 with less than 5 minutes to play in the 1st half. The Wildcats scored twice right before half and two more times in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half to build a commanded 48-14 advantage.
Almost all the damage for the Wildcats came on the ground. Arizona rushed it 47 times for 506 yards and 7 scores, averaging a ridiculous 10.8 yards/carry. Starting quarterback Brandon Dawkins was just 7 of 13 for 89 yards, while the defense allowed the Lumberjacks to pile on 562 total yards, including 377 through the air.
Free Vegas College Football Betting Pick: Houston -1
The fact you have a Power 5 program getting points at home, tells me the smart play is to back the Cougars. Especially with a lot of people down on Houston this year after losing Herman and starting quarterback Greg Ward. Like we saw with Western Michigan, who lost P.J. Fleck, I think there’s a ton of talent left for Applewhite to excel with.
That includes new starting quarterback Kyle Allen, who transferred from Texas A&M and sat out last year. All started 14 games over two seasons with the Aggies, throwing for 3,532 yards with 33 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions. I wouldn’t be shocked if he matched or even surpassed the passing numbers of Ward, who played injured most of last year (still put up great numbers).
Click on the link for more free NCAA football picks against the spread and total for Week 2.
Allen should fall in love with senior wide out Linell Bonner, who caught 98 passes for 1,118 yards last year. They also figure to have one of their best offensive lines in years, which means they should get back to running the ball effectively. After racking up 4.9 yards/carry in 2015, the Cougars only managed 3.4 ypc in 2016.
As for the defense, Houston has an elite NFL prospect on the line in defensive tackle Ed Oliver. He was a 1st-Team All-American last year as a true freshman. He was a big part in this team upsetting and holding a dynamic Oklahoma offense to just 23 points in last year’s opener. As well as limiting Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville to just 10 points. He should be even better and Houston adds in highly recruited Texas A&M transfer Reggie Chevis to pair alongside him.
Arizona clearly didn’t trust their passing attack, which could pose big problems for their offense if they plan on trying to run it down the Cougars throats. I think the books are spot on here and wouldn’t be shocked if Houston won this one going away.