LendingTree Bowl Rice Vs. Southern Miss Odds, Picks, Predictions (12/17/22)

As part of an epic slate of bowl games on Saturday, the Rice Owls and Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles will face off in the LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. For further analysis on this game and every bowl game this season, check out the Lineups YouTube page. In this article, I’ll break down my full prediction for the LendingTree Bowl including the betting odds and my official picks. Let’s get to work.

Rice Owls Vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles Odds

The line for this game has moved from an opening of Southern Miss -4.5 to the current number which has them at -6.5. Further movement could be on the horizon given the injuries at Rice’s quarterback position. With an over-under of 46.5 points, this isn’t expected to be one of the higher scoring bowl games this season. Given the strength of Southern Miss’s defense, that makes a lot of sense.

Rice Owls Vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles Prediction & Pick

Southern Miss had an excellent defensive season as they ranked 14th in success rate and 23rd in EPA allowed. Known as the “Nasty Bunch,” they shut down nearly every opposing offense in their path. Just 28 years old, defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong has put himself on the map in a big way for potential openings at Power Five programs.

The Golden Eagles’ defense present a complete mismatch for the Rice offense. The Owls have scored just 25.3 points per game, which ranks 86th in the FBS, and they were held to just 11.3 points per game over their last three games. Rice will struggle to get their offense going regardless of who is under center for them.

Leading receiver Luke McCaffrey is expected to make his return from injury after missing the team’s final two games, which would make a huge impact. He leads the team with 51 catches for 656 yards and six touchdowns. Despite McCaffrey’s return, this won’t be an easy game for the Rice offense.

Meanwhile, Southern Miss’s offense should be able to put up points here. While not necessarily a high-octane offense, the Golden Eagles scored 20+ points in all but one of their last seven games of the season. Quarterback Trey Lowe and running back Frank Gore Jr. are more than capable of moving the ball against Rice who ranks 120th in scoring defense.

I’ll happily lay the points with the favorite in this game as they are the healthier, better unit overall. Southern Miss was one of the first teams I bet on in this year’s bowl season, and I’d be comfortable playing it up to -7. As for the total, I lean towards the under, but I’m more confident in the spread in this game.

Rice Owls Vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles Key Matchups

Rice quarterback vs. Southern Miss pass defense

It’s unclear who will be the starting quarterback for the Owls this week as T.J. McMahon, who relieved Wiley Green as the starter, suffered an injury against Western Kentucky and missed the following two games. Freshmen Shawqi Itraish and A.J. Padgett split time in those two games, and Padgett has reportedly been getting the starter reps this week.

Whoever is under center for Rice will be under heavy fire in this game. The Golden Eagles rank eighth in sack rate and 34th in defensive havoc. Meanwhile, Rice ranks bottom ten in havoc allowed and PFF’s pass-blocking grades while ranking 97th in sack rate allowed. Expect the Golden Eagles to have plenty of pass rushing success.

In addition, the Southern Miss secondary is excellent. The Golden Eagles had two defensive backs, Jay Stanley and Malik Shorts, both make the All-Sun Belt Third Team. Stanley ranked fifth among all G5 cornerbacks and safeties in coverage grade, and he’ll create problems on the back end for the Rice passing offense.

Frank Gore Jr. vs Rice run defense

Son of the future NFL Hall of Fame running back, Frank Gore Jr. had a strong season with 207 carries for 1,053 yards and seven touchdowns. PFF graded him out as the 22nd-best running back in the country with 100+ carries this season, and he even threw for two touchdowns as he was used in a couple of trick plays.

Rice ranks 113rd in rushing EPA/play allowed and 128th in rushing explosiveness allowed, so Gore should have success in this game. The Owls struggle to tackle, ranking 94th in PFF’s tackling grades, and Gore forced 76 missed tackles this season, the third-most in the Group of Five.

Gore’s rushing will be pivotal to Southern Miss setting up the explosive passes they thrive on – they rank 17th in pass play explosiveness this season, while Rice ranks 114th in that metric defensively. Trey Lowe isn’t an all-star level passer, but he had an elite PFF passing grade in the intermediate part of the field, and he’ll be able to work that area against Rice who ranks 105th in PFF’s coverage grades.

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I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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