In preparing our Week 8 College Football picks, we notice that although Temple has reeled off three consecutive wins, they'll find themselves classified as betting odds underdogs vs. Houston.
At time of writing, the Cougars were favored by seven points, and that's a number that can be found at every major sportsbook out there. There could be some slight movement over the next few days, but we don't expect much.
Though a total has yet to have been released to the public, we don't think we'll be seeing a high number, as both defenses have been excellent so far this season.
Consistency, or a lack of it, has been the name of the game for the Cougars so far in 2014. They've yet to put together two straight wins, having alternated victories and losses every week this season.
Following a 17-12 setback against UCF, Houston got back on track last weekend to beat Memphis 28-24 on the road.
The big news there was the quarterbacking debut of Greg Ward Jr., who was previously being used as a wideout by the Cougars. Ward. Jr. was slotted into the mix to shake things up, and he came through with some big plays and helped Houston move the ball down the field.
In the end, he was 14-of-25 for 168 yards with one passing score and one interception, and he added 17 carries for 95 yards and an additional touchdown. The Cougars were dominant on the ground, totaling 186 rushing yards and three TDs in the crucial road win.
Defensively, Houston once again stood out. The Cougars forced five Memphis turnovers, picking off Paxton Lynch three times and also recovering a couple fumbles. Now they'll try to apply similar pressure to the Owls, with hopes of putting together their first winning streak of the season.
After a tough loss at Navy, the Owls have earned three straight wins coming into Friday. They dominated Delaware State (59-0) and Connecticut (36-10) and also had little trouble getting past Tulsa in a 35-24 home win.
Against the Golden Hurricane, Temple racked up 497 total yards of offense thanks to a balanced attack. QB P.J. Walker had 294 passing yards with two touchdowns and a pick, with the run game accounting for 203 yards and three touchdowns to put the icing on the cake. Jahad Thomas led all backs with 14 carries for 152 yards, though he wasn't able to find the end zone.
Both Jalen Fitzpatrick and Jamie Gilmore went over 100 receiving yards in the victory. Fitzpatrick had a team-high five catches for 107 yards and a score, while Gilmore made the most of his limited opportunities, racking up 100 yards on only two catches.
Now at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference, Temple has gotten off to a fast start, and a big reason for the Owls' success has been their defensive prowess. Through five games, they've allowed a mere 14.4 points per game, which is the fourth-lowest mark in all of college football. They've truly been excellent on that side of the ball.
A different type of challenge awaits on Friday, however, as the dual-threat ability of Ward Jr. could pose problems. We'll have to see if they can rise to the occasion on the road.
College Football Pick
Though the Cougars have been unable to stamp out consecutive wins this season, we think that disturbing trend ends this week.
The switch to Ward Jr. has provided a needed jolt, and you also have to consider that Houston has played a much tougher schedule so far this season, which would explain their shaky record.
So while many will be tempted to side with the Owls at a seemingly attractive College Football odds price, we're going the other way. Let's add Houston to our sports picks for the week.
Free College Football Pick: Houston Cougars -7 at Bet365