(The Spread) – Conference USA foes clash at Robertson Stadium in Week 9 when No. 18 Houston hosts Rice at 8:00PM ET.

Odds: Oddsmakers have installed the host Cougars as 27.5-point favorites over Rice, while the over/under total for tonight’s game is currently sitting at 70.5 points. The Owls come into the game with a 2-5 record overall and a 0-4 road record, while the Cougars are 7-0 overall and 4-0 at home.

Line Movement: Action on Houston has pushed the spread from 26.5 to 27.5 at most books. Bettors can find the Cougars listed at –27 at the Las Vegas Hilton, while the over/under total is currently listed at 71 up from 70.5. It’s very possible that the spread could climb as high as 28 before kickoff tonight, especially considering most of the majority of the public is on the favorite.

View 2012 BCS National Championship Odds

Public Betting: Of the 6,100-plus wagers on today’s game, 88% of college football public bettors currently favor Houston –27.5. This information is subject to change leading up to kickoff, however, so make sure you click on the “Public Betting” link provided to ensure that you’re viewing the most up-to-date public betting numbers.

College Football Free Pick: Take the Cougars. Houston has too many weapons for Rice and its 115th-ranked defense to match up with. Case Keenum leads the nation in total offense at 389 yards per game and the last time these two teams met at Robertson Stadium in 2009, the Owls were beaten 73-14. According to latest college football trends, the home team is 7-1 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two teams while the Cougars are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games. Rice is 1-7 ATS in its last eight road contest and 1-7 ATS in its last eight games as a road underdog.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 9 FREE PICK: HOUSTON COUGARS –27.5

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