The Temple Owls may be 4-1 while the home team Houston is just 3-3, but Temple has faced a weaker schedule while the Cougars enter Friday’s ESPNU matchup on an upswing.
There is AAC action on national TV Friday night as the Temple Owls (4-1, 3-2 ATS), who are already 2-0 inside the conference, pay a visit to the Houston Cougars (4-2, 3-3 ATS), who are 1-1 in conference play, at TDECU Stadium in Houston, TX at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.
The posted line at Pinnacle Sports is Houston -8 for this contest at current odds of -109.
Bigger Conference Game for Home Team
Temple has been a surprise thus far after more than a few experts picked the Owls to finish last in the AAC before the season, as they have only tasted defeat vs. Navy so far over their first five games overall and they have already beaten Connecticut and Tulsa inside the conference. To be fair, those are both lower echelon AAC teams though and they did not beat much out of conference.
The Cougars are 3-3 but they have been improving college football picks since a season opening loss to UT-San Antonio, as they are on a 3-1 ATS run with even the only non-cover in that stretch being just a five-point loss to the defending conference champions from Central Florida. Houston won its other AAC game nicely on the road at Memphis last week, and the Cougars need this game to tie the Owls in the conference standings.
Not a Hoot of a Schedule So Far
To give you an idea of just how week a schedule the Owls have faced, consider that the Sagarin Ratings rate every team in the country whether it be at the FBS or FCS level, and the Temple schedule grades out 176th in SOS, and keep in mind that there are only 128 FBS schools! Furthermore, as mentioned by Steve from collegefootballwinning.com last week, the highest ranked team that Temple has faced was Navy, which resulted in its only loss.
That cupcake slate makes it tough to take Temple’s numbers seriously, but for the record the Owls still just 97th in the country in total offense, and their 22nd ranked total defense has obviously benefitted from the competition. So on paper at least, the Owls seem to have made strides defensively after ranking 108th in total defense last year, but that does not figure to continue with this step up on competition and the offense should become more putrid!
Betting Line Already Rising
That fact has not been lost on early bettors as this line opened up at Houston -6 on Sunday, and as we write this on Tuesday afternoon, the line has crossed the 7 to its current -8. One reason for that is that while Temple has played a bunch of creampuffs, Houston, besides its narrow loss to UCF, also shows a covering 33-25 road loss at BYU on its out-of-conference slate, a BYU team that may have been on its way to an undefeated season before losing Taysom Hill.
The Cougars were also impressive in their road win at Memphis last week as 7½-point underdogs as their defense held the Tigers to just 368 total yards and they rushed for 166 yards in the game with dual threat quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. leading the way with 95 rushing yards on 17 carries. Ward was also efficient through the air completing 17-of-28 passes for 188 yards.
It seems like the benching of the highly touted but so far ineffective sophomore quarterback John O'Korn was a wise move as Ward seems to be getting better with every start, and the added running element that he brings has made the Cougars’ offense more versatile.
Cougars Roared at Temple Last Year
Houston is 3-0 all-time in this head-to-head series, but the first two wins are meaningless at this point as they came way back in the 80s. The most recent meeting though and the first between these schools as members of the brand new AAC came last season when the Cougars went into Philadelphia and beat Temple 22-13 as three-point road favorites.
Given the competition the teams have faced this year and Temple holding a one-game lead in the conference so far while benefitting from its weak schedule, look for Houston to make a statement with a rather emphatic win at home on ESPNU Friday night.
College Football Pick: Houston -8 (-109)