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Louisiana vs Houston Prediction, Odds and College Football Betting Picks for Independence Bowl

Friday’s college football bowl games doubleheader kicks off with an Independence Bowl matchup between the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and the Houston Cougars. Coming into the season, both teams fancied themselves capable of winning their respective conference championships. Although neither program was able to meet those expectations, each was able to qualify for the postseason. The Louisiana vs Houston odds and college football betting picks have made the AAC representative a sizeable favorite for this matchup.

The following game preview provides the college football betting odds, trends and FEI Index ratings before sharing our official Louisiana vs Houston prediction for the Independence Bowl matchup.

Louisiana vs Houston Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

Independence Bowl
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (6-6, 4-4 SBC) vs. Houston Cougars (7-5, 5-3 AAC)
Date: Friday, December 23, 2022
Time: 3 p.m. EST
Venue: Independence Stadium — Shreveport, LA
Coverage: ESPN

Having been the class of the Sun Belt Conference in recent years, needing to win the regular-season finale just to become bowl-eligible was largely unfamiliar territory for Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajuns were ultimately able to get the job done, albeit without quarterback Ben Wooldridge, who suffered a season-ending injury two weeks prior. Chandler Fields was serviceable enough down the stretch. However, leading receiver Michael Jefferson has opted out of the bowl game to prep for the 2023 NFL Draft.

With the majority of starters returning from a team that won 12 games a year ago, Houston was popular amongst college football betting picks to win the American Athletic Conference. To say that Dana Holgorsen’s squad underachieved would be an understatement. The Independence Bowl will be the end of the line for several of the Cougars’ upperclassmen with QB Clayton Tune possibly being among them. Star receiver Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell has already declared for the NFL Draft but will play in Friday’s contest.


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Nathaniel Dell Louisiana vs Houston prediction odds college football betting picks Independence Bowl game predictions
Credit: University of Houston Athletics

Louisiana vs Houston College Football Betting Picks and Odds

All college football betting odds for Louisiana vs Houston can be found at BetOnline Sportsbook.

Moneyline: ULL: (+220) | HOU: (-260)
Point Spread: ULL: +7 (-108) | HOU: -7 (-112)
Total: 56.5 — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)

College Football FEI Ratings

The following table shares the Fremeau Efficiency Index rankings for both teams involved in this Independence Bowl matchup. The purpose of the FEI ratings is to represent the per-possession scoring advantage that a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent. The rankings for offense and defense are out of 131 total FBS-level teams.

Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) ratings are froFootball Outsiders

TeamOverall FEI (Rk)OFEI (Rk)DFEI (Rk)
Louisiana-.17 (78)-.50 (91)-.18 (71)
Houston.13 (57).69 (29)-.44 (96)
  • Ragin’ Cajuns are 0-5 ATS in their last five games following a straight up win of 20 points or more.
  • The OVER is 6-0 in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ last six games following a straight up win.
  • Six of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ last seven games against high-scoring teams averaging 36 points per game or more have stayed UNDER the total.
  • Each of the Cougars’ last four non-conference games has gone OVER the total.
  • The UNDER is 4-0 in the Cougars’ last four neutral site games.
  • Cougars are 4-0 ATS in their last four matchups against Sun Belt Conference opponents.
  • Cougars went 2-1 straight up (1-1-1 ATS) in their three most recent head-to-head meetings against Louisiana, all of which took place between 2002-06.

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Louisiana vs Houston Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

The college football betting market has moved the Louisiana vs Houston odds two full points in the latter’s favor relative to the opening spread. As a result of the adjustment, the Cougars are now laying a full touchdown. For some, this may be a surprising development given that Houston went just 1-7 ATS as a betting favorite during the regular season.

From the standpoint of talent, there is no reason why the Cougars’ offense shouldn’t dominate this matchup. Clayton Tune finished the year ranked seventh in the country in passing yards (3,845), and future NFL draftee Tank Dell was third in receiving yards (1,354). On the surface, one wouldn’t give a backup quarterback playing without his top receiver much of a chance of keeping pace. However, Houston just got beaten by a Tulsa team that was starting its backup in the regular-season finale.

As previously noted, Houston’s defense was atrocious all year long. The Cougars ranked 110th out of 131 FBS teams in scoring defense and were 96th in adjusted efficiency. What’s more, the unit only seemed to get worse late in the year, reaching an all-time low on the first weekend of November by allowing 77 points to SMU.

On the contrary, Louisiana relied heavily on its defense all season long as the offense never truly managed to find its footing. With the passing attack depleted, the Ragin’ Cajuns figure to lean on running back Chris Smith, who will be playing in the Independence Bowl despite declaring for the draft. Being able to run the ball effectively and shorten the game will boost Louisiana’s chances of scoring the upset tremendously.

With that being said, the Ragin’ Cajuns have been far too inconsistent this season to make betting on them appealing. Instead, bettors are advised to play the game total to the Over given that the current line of 56.5 represents a low point. After all, it’s inevitable that Houston will score points and almost near as certain that the defense will allow a healthy amount of its own.

OVER THE TOTAL will be our official college football betting Louisiana vs Houston prediction for the Independence Bowl.

For what it’s worth, the ESPN Matchup Predictor gives Houston a 64.2% chance to win this game outright.

Bet: OVER 56.5 (-110 at BetOnline Sportsbook)


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