College Football Betting: Houston-Memphis Pick Dependent On Health Of Tigers QB

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 9:09 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 9:09 PM UTC

It's the regular-season finale on Friday afternoon for American Athletic Conference teams Houston and Memphis. The Cougars will be college football betting favorites on the road, but by how much depends on the health of the Tigers' star QB.

Cougars Staring At Trap Game?

Houston (9-2, 5-2 AAC) jumped from unranked to No. 18 in the new Associated Press Top 25 this week following last Thursday's incredibly impressive 36-10 home victory over Louisville, then the No. 5 team in the College Football Playoff rankings. That loss ended the Cardinals' hopes of reaching the playoff and put a bit of dent in Lamar Jackson's Heisman hopes, although he's still likely to win the award because there's no clear-cut No. 2 guy chasing him.

The Cougars' defense held that high-powered Louisville offense to just 312 yards -- Jackson had topped that by halftime a few times earlier this season. He was just 20-for-43 for 211 yards with a TD and rushed for only 33 yards on 25 carries because he was sacked a whopping 11 times. The Cougars also forced three turnovers. Houston QB Greg Ward Jr., in his final home game threw for 233 yards and two scores. Duke Catalon rushed for a TD and caught two scoring passes.

The thing is, that win didn't do a ton for Houston. It will not be playing in the AAC title game, which means it won't be playing in a New Year's Six bowl game, either. Upset losses earlier in the season to Navy and SMU, both on the road, killed Houston. Navy has won Houston's West Division.

The biggest story line here surrounds Houston coach Tom Herman. The University of Texas reportedly will fire Coach Charlie Strong at some point soon. All signs point to Herman being named Strong's replacement. That certainly would happen before any bowl game for the Cougars. Would Herman stick around for that or leave immediately?

Houston is 5-6 ATS on college football odds and 2-2 ATS on the road.


Will Tigers' Ferguson Play?

I previewed Memphis' game last week at Cincinnati  here a SBR and recommended the Tigers at -7. They covered easily in a 34-7 victory to improve to 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the conference. That obviously assured first-year Memphis coach Mike Norvell of a winning record. He's only the third first-time coach to do that since World War II and first since 1975. Norvell's seven wins ties Richard Williamson's school-record for a first-year guy set in 1975.

Memphis scored on its first four possessions against Cincinnati. On the Bearcats' first two possessions of the game, the Memphis defense picked off Hayden Moore passes deep in UC territory. It was the fourth game the Tigers defense has held an opponent to fewer than 10 points this season. That hasn't happened that  many times since 1993 (five).

The big question here is Memphis QB Riley Ferguson, who was 3-for-5 for 21 yards vs. Cincinnati before leaving in the first half with a head injury. It's not clear if he can play Friday. Norvell later described Ferguson’s removal from the game as precautionary. Senior Jason Stewart replaced Ferguson and completed 13 of 15 for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Norvell says both QBs are preparing to start and it might be a game-time decision.

I like Houston if Ferguson can't play OR if the number is single digits. If Ferguson does play AND it's a double-digit spread, go Tigers. Memphis is 4-7 ATS on college football picks and 2-4 ATS at home.

NCAAF Free Pick: Houston if ...Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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