College Football Picks: Can Memphis Snap Houston's Perfect Record?

Willie Bee

Thursday, November 12, 2015 12:53 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 12:53 PM UTC

The Houston Cougars in the College Football Playoffs?  It could happen, and they're favored on the college football odds board to stay unbeaten this week vs. Memphis.

A half-dozen teams remain undefeated at the FBS level. My guess is you could ask 100 people in your favorite sports bar who they were and less than half could name all six. Oh sure, most if not all could come up with Clemson, Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State, and many would include Iowa on their lists.

But how many would correctly identify the Houston Cougars as one of the six teams still sporting a perfect record?

Until last Saturday, Houston's next opponent was also unbeaten. The Memphis Tigers saw their run blemished, however, and they come to H-Town with a bit of a chip on their shoulders looking to hand the Cougars their first loss. Kickoff at TDCEU Stadium is set for a little past 7 PM (ET) Saturday, ESPN2 handling the broadcast duties.

The early money has been on Houston, the Cougars opening as 5 point favorites and now listed -7 at 5Dimes. SBR's live college football odds is showing 72 at the same shop for the scoreboard hurdle.

The Cougars and Tigers are meeting for the third time as American Athletic Conference rivals, Houston winning each of the previous two AAC encounters. The schools also got together 12 times as members of Conference USA, the Cougs winning the last five clashes to build a 14-9 advantage in the series that dates to 1963 when both were independents.

Last year's matchup took place in Bluff City where the Cougars pulled off a 28-24 upset as 7½ point road 'dogs. That contest went 'over' a 48 point line, but the last three played in Houston never made it to the totals.

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Can Tigers Slow Houston Offense?
If Memphis (8-1 straight up, 4-4-1 against the spread) got caught last week looking ahead to this battle, there's really no excuse for that. The Tigers were 10 point chalk at home going up against Navy, and saw a 15-game win streak crash in a 45-20 loss to the Midshipmen who still own an undefeated AAC mark.

That game was knotted 17-all midway through the third quarter before Navy figuratively and literally ran away from the Tigers. A 75-yard scoring strike -- all but 10 of Navy's net passing yards -- turned the game around in the third, and Memphis never could stop the Midshipmen on the ground, yielding a season-high 374 yards rushing.

The Tigers will once again be facing an offense that can run the ball down your throat. Houston is seventh averaging 273 yards per game on the ground, and the Cougars have a stronger passing attack than Navy, meaning Memphis can't just load up the box.


Cougars Must Stop Memphis QB Lynch
If there's good news for Memphis, it comes in the form of injuries on the Houston (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS) side. The Cougars lost backup tailback Ryan Jackson for the season due to a broken collarbone suffered in last week's win over Cincinnati, and both starting guards on the offensive line, Colton Freeman (neck) and Mason Denley (concussion) are questionable for Saturday's tilt.

Houston was close to dropping its first game under 1st-year head coach Tom Herman last week, but managed to nip the Bearcats, 33-30, as 8 point home favorites. A leaky pass defense by the Cougars helped keep Cincinnati in the game until the end, surrendering a season-high 523 yards through the air to leave Houston 107th in the country allowing nearly 270 yards a contest passing.

They'll be facing a solid quarterback again this week in Paxton Lynch who ranks sixth nationally averaging almost 335 yards passing per game. When asked how he was going to prepare his defense to face the 6'-7" Lynch, Herman quipped, "Put our scout QB on stilts."

Still several days away from kickoff, bettors are advised to get a weather update before they go to the window; right now, everything looks fine (63º, PC skies at the boot). It'll piss my Cougar High friends off, but I'm taking the Tigers plus a touchdown for my free college football pick.

College Football Pick: Memphis +7 at 5Dimes

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