Navy-Houston College Football Pick Depends on Cougars' QB Status

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 8:27 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 8:27 PM UTC

The AAC West Division title and a spot in the conference championship game is on the line Friday -- and maybe more -- when Houston hosts Navy. The Cougars are 1-point underdogs on Heritage's college football odds with the total TBA.

Navy Having Near-Historic Season
Navy (9-1, 7-0 AAC) is the highest-ranked team Group of Five school in the College Football Playoff rankings so if the Midshipmen win out, they would play in a New Year's Six bowl game. A win over Houston wins the AAC West and a spot probably opposite Temple in the conference title game next week, although South Florida still has an outside chance of winning the East Division (Navy would host regardless). After the AAC title game, Navy would still have the annual season-ending game vs. Army. So some of the New Year's Six bowls would be up in the air until after  that game potentially as the committee would have to see if Navy is upset by Army. Navy would either land in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl or Fiesta Bowl. The Middies haven't played in a major bowl since 1963 when it lost to No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl for the national championship.

Roger Staubach is probably known as the greatest football player at Navy but current quarterback Keenan Reynolds has dome some amazing things in his career. The senior has scored 82 career touchdowns (all rushing), which are the most in NCAA FBS history for rushing touchdowns. Reynolds is two touchdowns behind Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson (not the Minnesota Viking) and Towson's Terrance West for the overall Division I record (FBS and FCS). Reynolds' 82 career total touchdowns (combined rushing and receiving) are the second most in NCAA FBS history, one behind record-holder Montee Ball of Wisconsin.

Reynolds has rushed for a school-record 4,195 yards in his career, passing Napoleon McCallum last week against Tulsa for the record. Reynolds has the fifth-most rushing yards in NCAA history for a quarterback. A win Friday would tie the Navy record for wins with 10.  The Midshipmen have won 15 of their last 17 games with the only two losses coming to Notre Dame last year and this.

Navy is No. 2 in the nation in rushing at 348.4 yards per game; it has rushed for at least 400 yards in two straight games (SMU, Tulsa) but has never done it three in a row. The Midshipmen are 8-2 against the spread on college football odds and 6-4 'over/under.'


Houston's QB Situation Unsettled
Houston was the victim of one of the biggest upsets in the nation this season when the Cougars (10-1, 6-1) lost 20-17 at UConn last Saturday. Houston has one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks in Greg Ward Jr., but he wasn't able to start that game because of ankle injury. Backup Kyle Postma threw for 190 yards and a touchdown in his place but was injured himself late in the game. Ward came in and was intercepted by UConn's Jamar Summers with 55 seconds left. The Cougars had a season-low 318 yards of offense. But in a way, that didn't hurt Houston all that much as it still controls its destiny to win the AAC title and perhaps reach a New Year's Six bowl -- just an unbeaten season is gone. UH was never going to be in the College Football Playoff.

It's not year clear who starts this week at quarterback, Ward or Postma -- that's why there's no total yet. Houston is clearly a different team with Ward, who has thrown for 2,194 yard and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 810 yards and 16 more scores.

Houston has the AAC's top scoring offense (41.1 points per game) and Navy has the league's top scoring defense (18.7 ppg). The UH scoring defense ranks third in the league (20.2 points) while the Navy scoring offense ranks third (38.2 points). The Cougars rank 12th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 114.8 yards per game. They are second nationally with 27 turnovers forced and fourth nationally with a +18 turnover margin.

This could well be the final home game for Houston head coach Tom Herman as he has been rumored for several Power Five Conference openings. Houston has approved a raise of Herman's salary to $3 million from $1.3 million to entice him to stay. The Cougars are 6-5 ATS on college football picks this season and 4-6-1 O/U.


Last Meeting
Navy is a former independent and new member of the AAC this season so it's the first meeting between the schools since 1980.

College Football Picks: If Ward starts, take Houston +1 at Heritage. If not, go Navy. The Cougars are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 after a loss. Navy is 2-6 ATS in its past eight Friday games. 

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