UCLA vs Houston: Betting Odds, Preview and Prediction

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 29: Derrick Coleman #33 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates his tochdown with Joseph Fauria #8 of the UCLA Bruins for a 17-10 lead over the California Golden Bears at Rose Bowl on October 29, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It's the biggest over-under number on the board, but just because the UCLA-Houston total is 75.5 does not mean bettors are flocking to put money on the UNDER.

The UCLA Bruins shoot for a 3-0 start for their new head coach when they take on the struggling Houston Cougars under the lights Saturday night at the Rose Bowl (10:30 pm ET, P-12 Network).

And if past head-to-head results mean anything, even the humongous total of 76 is in jeopardy. Three of four UCLA-Houston meetings since 1996 have seen 70+ points scored.

Most online sportsbooks ttracked by OddsShark.com opened this game with UCLA favored by 17 points, and the total offered at 74. But while the line had held steady into Thursday evening, the total had been bumped to 76.

Apparently, somebody thinks there might be some points scored in this game. (Follow OddsShark on Twitter for updates on injuries, line moves and other Vegas-related news.)

Even with that huge number, six in 10 bets were on the OVER, according to the NCAA football consensus data.

The Bruins are 2-0 under new head coach Jim Mora, Jr., after beating Rice 49-24 and, last week, Nebraska 36-30. RB Johnathan Franklin has rushed for 431 yards on just 41 carries (that's over 10 yards a crack, for you non-math majors out there), and new starting QB Brett Hundley has completed 69 percent of his throws and owns a 6/1 TD/INT ratio.

The UCLA defense, meanwhile, although it's given up some yardage, made the play that gave the Bruins the lead for good last Saturday, a sack-safety with eight minutes to go that broke a 27-27 tie.

Hundley hurt an ankle vs. the Huskers, and had to leave the game for a while, but came back and is expected to play this Saturday.

With their two victories the Bruins have poked their noses into the ranks of the ranked, coming in at No. 22 in this week's AP Top 25 poll.

Houston, meanwhile, is shockingly 0-2 to start this season. The Cougars, as 34-point favorites, lost their opener to Texas State 30-13, then last week fell to Louisiana Tech 56-49.

Houston QB David Piland, taking over for record-setting Case Keenum, is 70-for-121 passing this season for almost 800 yards. That's through two games. Last week he threw 77 times for 580 yards against Lou Tech, as the Cougars played catch-up all day.

Piland didn't throw a pass last year, but he's no wide-eyed newcomer; he started eight games two years ago as a freshman and complied a 24/14 TD/INT ratio.

The Bruins last started 3-0 in 2009; they promptly lost their next five games.

UCLA's Franklin must be licking his chops watching Houston films this week. The Cougars have allowed almost 500 yards rushing through their first two games.

These teams have met the last two seasons, splitting two games. Two years ago UCLA beat then-No. 23 Houston in LA 31-13, but last year the Cougars held on for a 38-34 victory in H-Town.

Free Pick: The Bruins have looked great so far, while the Cougars have been terrible, at least defensively. UCLA should win this game, but Houston will throw it around right to the final gun. We'll take the points with the Cougars. (courtesy of Pick Shark)

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