Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:49 AM

BYU vs. Houston Week 7 Predictions, Odds, Preview

  • October 16, 2020
  • By Joe Nelson

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After Sun Belt games Wednesday and Thursday in college football this week, Friday night offers a matchup with more national relevance as BYU visits Houston in a big non-conference game in a year where there won’t actually be many non-conference games.

Houston won its long-awaited opener last Thursday night while independent BYU is 4-0 and climbing the national rankings. Here is a look at a big Friday night non-conference game between two undefeated national long shots.



Line Movements

  • Spread: BYU -4.5
  • Money-Line: BYU -200, Houston +175
  • Total: 62.5


BYU has outscored its opposition 175-44 this season but it has not been a formidable path. BYU will now be on the road for the first time since the Labor Day blowout win at Navy to start the season.

BYU is 3-1 ATS with the only miss last week’s 27-20 win over UTSA as a nearly five-touchdown favorite. BYU was just 2-5 ATS on the road last season, losing S/U in four of those games.

Houston had a 5-0 turnover deficit in a sloppy opening effort last week after a series of cancellations in September. Houston still won and covered however, coming back from an early 24-7 deficit to win by 18 vs. Tulane with a dominant production edge.

Last year in Dana Holgorsen’s first season back at Houston they surprisingly went 1-4 S/U & ATS at home with a combined total of 173 points allowed in four FBS home games.


BYU has only one other road game on the schedule this season with a November trip to Boise State. The BYU Cougars are a serious threat to finish undefeated as that is likely the only game that they could possibly be an underdog in.

If the current schedule holds and BYU finished 10-0, they likely wouldn’t have the weight to be considered for a national playoff spot but undefeated teams are already scare in 2020 as it isn’t completely out of the question.

Houston will have several difficult AAC games coming up and three of the four biggest games will be on the road. A win here would certainly catapult the Houston Cougars to the forefront of the conference and into the national rankings next week.

The AAC has several quality teams this season including two top 17 squads in the current rankings as the national opportunity for a team running the table in the American is likely better than in a standard schedule season.


Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • Overall: 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS, 1-3 O/U

The numbers are very impressive for BYU with 859 rushing yards in four games, averaging 5.0 yards per rush with sophomore Tyler Allgeier leading the way.

Junior quarterback Zach Wilson has already thrown for 1,241 yards with eight touchdowns, averaging a whooping 12.3 yards per attempt as big plays have been common. Wilson is completing passes at an over 81 percent rate so far this season and his 208.6 QB Rating ranks third nationally.


BYU is fifth nationally in allowing just 251 yards per game and that average was significantly stronger before allowing 359 yards last week to UTSA. Two touchdowns against BYU and significant yardage did come in the fourth quarter which BYU entered leading 21-6, but the Cougars did have their worst showing of the season last week.

BYU is still allowing only 2.5 yards per rush this season with a veteran linebacker corps that has been impressive.

Kalani Sitake took over for Bronco Mendenhall starting in the 2016 season. BYU was 9-4 that season and then reversed that record for a rare losing season in Provo in 2017.

The past two seasons BYU has finished 7-6 as Sitake is 31-25 S/U and 29-27 ATS in his career. BYU is 11-13 S/U on the road under Sitake but 15-9 ATS, including 10-2 ATS as a road underdog, but just 6-6 S/U and 5-7 ATS as a road favorite.


  • Overall: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U

In his first season at Houston Dana Holgorsen fell well short of expectations finishing 4-8 despite a significant buzz after what felt like a coup getting him to leave the Big XII for the AAC. A tough schedule, needing to change quarterbacks with D’Eriq King opting to transfer, and the normal challenges of a transition season added up.

Houston was a successful rushing team last season posting more than 2,200 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. Surprisingly in the opener the ground game was somewhat bottled up, posting 157 yards but on 43 carries, though with four rushing touchdowns.

Clayton Tune took over last season at quarterback with mixed results and his 2020 opener offered the same. He threw for 319 yards and hit several big plays but had three turnovers, two of which led to defensive touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game.

As expected, Marquez Stevenson was the team’s top receiver last week with a strong 2020 debut and his 97-yard kickoff return touchdown will be an impressive addition to his NFL draft reel. Tune was sacked four times as the offensive line is likely a work in progress after losing its leader Josh Jones to the NFL last spring.

Knowing that 14 of the 31 points allowed to Tulane were directly off turnovers, the 2020 debut of the Houston defense looks impressive. Houston held Tulane to only 211 yards and 1.6 yards per rush. Tulane did feature an inexperienced quarterback that struggled however as the jury may still be out given that Houston allowed 34 points per game last season.



These programs have met twice with similar results in a pair of meetings in 2013 and 2014. BYU won at Houston the first year 47-46 and at home the second year 33-25, falling short of a double-digit favorite spread in both instances.


-- BYU is 6-6 S/U and 5-7 ATS as a road favorite under Sitake including 1-5 ATS since the start of last season.

-- BYU is 31-38 ATS as a road favorite since 1997 and just 3-8 ATS in the past 11 games as a favorite in any venue since the start of last season.

-- Houston is just 11-39 S/U and 22-28 ATS as a home underdog since 1993, including going 0-4 S/U and 1-3 ATS last season.

-- Holgorsen went just 3-13 S/U and 5-9-2 ATS as a home underdog at West Virginia.

-- Houston is on a 21-8 ATS run as an underdog since 2013, but most of that success was in road games.


  • Score Prediction: BYU 34 Houston 23
  • Best Bet: Under 62.5
  • Best Bet: BYU -4.5

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