Armed Forces Bowl NCAA Football Picks: Houston vs. Pittsburgh

Jeff Grant

Monday, December 29, 2014 1:58 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 29, 2014 1:58 PM GMT

Houston expects to see a packed stadium with the color red in Fort Worth Friday, which makes it a top college football underdog against Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl.

A Disappointing Season
Houston alternated wins and losses in its first six games this season en route to a final 7-5 SU and 6-5-1 ATS record, which eventually wasn’t good enough for university officials—leading to the dismissal of head coach Tony Levine on Dec. 8.

The Cougars will be led onto the field by defensive coordinator David Gibbs, which is preatty relevant for college football bowl odds, as he expects to stay on as a member of the staff under new coach Tom Herman.

Gibbs is known for orchestrating one of the more aggressive stop units in the country—playing a major part in the team forcing 73 turnovers since the start of the 2013 campaign. Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 3-10 SU and 8-4-1 ATS as underdogs, with the OVER going 8-5 in that situation.

 

Youthful Look
Pittsburgh was expected to do big things in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2015, as its roster is comprised of 81 underclassmen, which happens to be the highest such total of any FBS team.

The Panthers said goodbye to third-year head coach Paul Chryst after the regular season, as he accepted the same position at his alma mater in Madison, Wisconsin. A young team will be guided by offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph in this matchup at Amon G. Carter Stadium, while former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was hired last week to take over for Chryst next season.

It’s important to point out that the school is 14-8 SU and 10-12 ATS in its last 22 opportunities as a betting favorite.

 

Keeping Things Close
The Cougars have the ability to improve upon their 9-12-1 SU all-time record in bowl games if they remain in striking distance late, as they outscored opponents by a 105-33 margin in the fourth quarter this season.

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. competed 67.8 percent of his passes after returning to the position on Oct. 2, while the rushing attack has a “thunder and lightning” look with Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson.

 

Playmakers
The Panthers deserve to be favored over their opponent out of the American Athletic Conference, as their offensive attack features the 2014 ACC Player of the Year in sophomore tailback James Conner.

He set both Pittsburgh and conference records this season with 24 rushing touchdowns, while the passing attack has a major target in fellow second-year player Tyler Boyd, who finished with 1,149 receiving yards.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Cougars as one of their college football picks, as they’ve gone 18-8-1 ATS in their last 27 overall contests, while the Panthers are on a 3-6 SUATS run when the betting line is +3 to -3.

Free College Football pick:  Houston Cougars +3 at Bookmaker

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