Houston-UTEP Odds

El Paso, TX Houston showed during non-conference play that it can more than hold its own with teams from major conferences. UTEP apparently hasn't made the same leap.

Bet College Football Week 5

The 12th-ranked Cougars look to build on back-to-back wins over Big 12 opponents in their Conference USA opener Saturday night when they visit the Miners, coming off a blowout loss to a team from a BCS conference.

Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL have made Houston -16 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on Houston -16 (View College Football bet percentages).

Playing as a ranked team for the first time in 18 years and in front of a record home crowd of 32,114, Houston (3-0) beat Texas Tech 29-28 last Saturday night. It was the second consecutive high-profile win for the Cougars, who stormed into the Top 25 after a 45-35 win at then-No. 5 Oklahoma State on Sept. 12.

Case Keenum completed 38 of 58 passes for 435 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Red Raiders. The junior out of Abilene finished a 95-yard touchdown drive with a 4-yard keeper with 49 seconds remaining to put the Cougars on top for good.

"If you don't look forward to that and have excitement then you're not alive, you're not human," said Keenum, who completed a 7-yard pass on fourth-and-3 to keep the winning drive alive. "It's a lot of fun and I'd like to do this every week."

If the Cougars manage to do that every week through the end of the regular season, they could become Conference USA's first BCS buster. Coach Kevin Sumlin, though, downplayed that possibility.

"All we can do is play the people on our schedule," he said. "We're not going to worry about that."

That schedule looks promising. No other Conference USA team is in the Top 25, and the Cougars' final non-conference game is against currently unranked Mississippi State on Oct. 10.

Houston, however, isn't looking past its conference opener against UTEP, the first of three consecutive road games. The Cougars think they'll benefit from their experience last season, when they played four straight outside Houston because a home game against Air Force was moved to Dallas as Hurricane Ike approached.

They'll also be in better shape if they can deal with the hype surrounding their early success.

"We don't feel the pressure of keeping the record perfect," Keenum said. "We still have to play like we have nothing to lose. It doesn't matter if we went 3-0 or 0-3 in the past three games, it's a 0-0 season now and we have to continue everything the same way."

While Houston is looking to keep things the same, UTEP (1-3) is hoping for dramatic changes after suffering a 64-7 loss at No. 2 Texas last Saturday. The Miners were completely overmatched, getting outgained 639-53 to fall to 3-47 against ranked opponents.

"It's hard to beat the best team in the country when you're playing really, really good, let alone when you're not playing good," coach Mike Price said.

Despite UTEP's ugly performance last week, Sumlin knows better than to take the Miners lightly.

"Last year they were 0-3 and then the first league game was Central Florida and they beat them 58-13," Sumlin said. "So who knows what's going to happen. They're tough at home. It's their homecoming. It's the first league game."

UTEP won its first three games with Houston, but the Cougars have taken the last three, including the last two by a combined eight points. Keenum completed 41 of 51 passes for 480 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for two TDs in a 42-37 victory at home last season.

Trevor Vittatoe, who was 7 for 21 with four interceptions against the Longhorns, was 27 for 45 for 362 yards, four TDs and no picks in last year's meeting with the Cougars.

Houston is 1-3 all-time at the Sun Bowl.

Bet College Football Week 5

Posted: 9/29/09 7:47PM ET

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