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Houston vs. Louisiana picks and best bets for Independence Bowl

The Cougars take on the Ragin’ Cajuns in Louisiana for the Independence Bowl.

Tulsa v Houston Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Cougars will take on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on Friday, Dec. 23 in the Independence Bowl. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Cougars (7-5, 5-3 AAC) went to overtime three times this season, losing to Tulane and Texas Tech in extra time but beating UTSA in their best win of the year. They faced a tough schedule, filled out by Kansas and East Carolina. After blowing out the Pirates, they fell to Tulsa in the final week of the regular season.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (6-6, 4-4 Sun Belt) enter on a three-bowl-game win streak. This season, first-year coach Michael Desormeaux led the team to wins over Georgia Southern and Marshall. QBs Ben Wooldridge and Chandler Fields combined for 25 passing TDs, seven of which went to receiver Michael Jefferson.

Current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Houston -7
Total: 56.5
Moneyline: Houston -255, Louisiana +215

Key players that have opted-out, injuries for Independence Bowl


QB Holman Edwards (transfer portal)
WR Joseph Manjack IV (injured)
DE Derek Parish (injured)


WR Dontae Fleming (transfer portal)
WR Michael Jefferson (opt-out)
DE Andre Jones (opt-out)
RB Terrence Williams (injured)
QB Ben Wooldridge (injured)


25 degrees, 0% chance of rain. 13 MPH winds

Neither of these teams are particularly used to playing in cold weather, so as this cold front comes through Louisiana, the passing game may take a hit.

The Pick: Houston -7

Houston played at a significantly higher level than Louisiana this year, going head-to-head with ranked teams and in-conference challengers and coming out with some remarkable wins and finishes. This Louisiana program is certainly poised to keep building under Desormeaux in future seasons, but Houston is likely to break the Cajuns’ winning streak in bowls and cover the spread.