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Broncos vs. Owls Preview/Pick: Texas Bowl

Texas Bowl Western Michigan Broncos at Rice Owls

Neither of these teams come from a power conference; after all, Rice is part of Conference USA, while Western Michigan is a member of the Mid-American Conference. Neither team has stepped up in a very big way against upper-echelon competition, though it should be mentioned that Western Michigan beat Temple and Buffalo on the road and beat Illinois at Detroit, a neutral site, while Rice won its big regular season game in a 56-42 shootout over cross-town rival Houston.  

BetUS NCAA Football Betting Odds: RICE -3, Total 73.5

Here are some of the NCAA college football betting trends as they relate to this matchup:

* WMU has won nine of its last 11 games SU
* WMU has played eight of its last 13 games OVER the total
* WMU is 6-13-2 ATS in its last 21 games
* RICE has covered five of its last six games
* RICE has won its last six games SU
* RICE has played 19 of its last 23 games OVER the total

Both teams have weapons, but the big offensive stars in this contest belong to Rice. Chase Clement is a quarterback who could find his way into an NFL locker room. This season he capped off his illustrious career with 3812 yards passing, with 41 touchdowns through the air and 14 on the ground. Clement has an All-America wide receiver to throw to in Jarrett Dillard, who is coveted by NFL scouts, and why not? Dillard caught 79 passes this season, and has had at least two grabs in every game of his collegiate career. James Casey is a guy who can line up like an H-back or a tight end, and he caught 104 passes, scored 18 TD’s all told, and is a threat on the option pass as well, as he threw for a couple of touchdowns.

There shouldn’t a load of problems moving the football against WMU’s defense, which ranks 96th against the pass. Of course, Rice is rather permissive through the air, ranking 112th in pass defense, and the Broncos have a quarterback who can exploit the Owls. Tim Hiller tossed 34 scores with just eight interceptions, and had eight games with more than one TD pass. He’s got three receivers with 50 receptions or more (led by Jamarko Simmons with 98 catches for 1184 yards), and gets nice balance in the offense from Brandon West (970 rushing yards). Rice is soft up front (5.2 ypc allowed), so West could be a prominent figure.

Even so, Rice, which is on a six-game winning streak, which got them to nine wins for the first time since 1953, can level a barrage of offense on any opponent, enough to make it difficult to trade. That will apply especially if C.J. Ugwoke, who had three 100-yard games in his last five, can supply some diversion on the ground. The Owls take care of the ball (+13 turnover margin, with just 7 INT’s by Clement) and let us not forget that this is a home game for them. We’re going to lay the points with Rice, the three-point favorite in the BetUS NCAA college football online betting odds.

Our PLAY: RICE -3 ***

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