This Thursday the Houston Cougars will host the No. 3 ranked Louisville Cardinals. Kickoff for this Week 12 matchup is set for 8:00 EST at TDECU Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN. Oddsmakers have the Cougars as a 14-point favorite with the total at 68.5 points.

Louisville vs Houston Vegas Odds Preview

The Cardinals (9-1, 7-1 ACC) are hoping the chaos from last week gets them back in the playoff picture. Louisville closed out ACC play with a 44-12 win at home over Wake Forest. However, they still are on the outside looking in at the ACC Championship Game. For them to make it, Clemson would have to lose at Wake Forest on Saturday.

The Cougars (8-2, 5-2 AAC) come in off a 30-18 win at home over Tulane. Houston will also likely miss out on their conference title game, as they need Navy to lose at ECU and SMU.

Free Pick & Betting Predictions: Houston +14

My early lean here is on the Cougars as a two-touchdown dog at home against the Cardinals. Houston comes into this game having failed to cover the spread in 5 straight games. That includes an ugly 16-38 loss at SMU as a 23-point favorite. It all started with their 40-46 loss at Navy, which all but ended their hope for making the playoffs.

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On top of that, they pretty much know their prized head coach is jumping ship after the season. Not an easy thing to play through against some of the below-average teams they face in the AAC. I expect a completely different Houston team to take the field for this game.

Senior wide out Chance Allen came out and said that “This is our Super Bowl.” I believe that’s exactly how the Cougars are going to treat this game. This is there opportunity to prove how talented they are against an elite team. I also think there’s extra motivation knowing they can play spoiler for Louisville.

As good as Louisville is, winning on the road by more than 14-points against a good team is no easy task. Keep in mind all the pressure is on the Cardinals in this one. Not to mention we have seen them slip on the road of late. Their lone loss was on the road at Clemson. They also nearly lost at Virginia not that long ago. They trailed 24-25 before scoring a 29-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left to win 32-25.

It’s also important to note that Houston has played well at home. The Cougars haven’t lost at home since 2014, winning each of their last 14 home games.

I believe the key here is the Cougars have the talent on defense to keep Lamar Jackson in check. Houston ranks 3rd in the country against the run. They are giving up just 92.8 yards/game and a mere 2.8 yards/carry.

Don’t forget these two teams played last year in Louisville. Houston won that game 34-31 as a 13-point road dog. While Jackson split reps at quarterback, he was just 17 of 27 for 168 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs. The Cougars also limited him to just 16 yards on 12 rushing attempts. I understand he’s better, but I don’t think it’s so much that they should be favored by more on the road than they were at home last year.