The University of Houston Cougars (3-3) will travel to beautiful Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the United States Naval Academy Midshipmen (2-4). Houston, chock-full of key returns, clinched a big road win last Friday in Memphis after a sluggish start to the year. The Cougars scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a two-yard passing TD with 18 seconds left to edge out the Tigers, 33-32. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen took on the SMU Mustangs last Friday, losing in a shootout in Dallas 40-34. Navy ran for an absurd 372 yards, but SMU shredded the Midshipmen through the air with 336 passing yards. Of course, it didn’t help that they lost the turnover battle two to zero.
Houston Cougars vs. Navy Midshipmen Betting Odds
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Tale of the Tape
Through the eyes of the fans, the Houston Cougars remain an offensive juggernaut with Dana Holgorsen at the helm. The former FWAA Coach of the Year at West Virginia took over the reins in 2019, already reaching 12 wins last season. Unfortunately, the Cougars are already over their loss total from last season, as their schedule has been unfavorable. Two of Houston’s losses came by three points each, one against a 6-1 Tulane squad and one on the road against Texas Tech. The offense is led by returning QB Clayton Tune and WR Nathanial Dell. Dell leads the AAC in receiving touchdowns (6) and punt return yards on average (11.8). The offense ranks in the middle of the pack in all major categories, but they are beginning to heat up as the season progresses. Tune has thrown for 823 yards and seven scores against two interceptions in his last three games. Dell has played a massive role, being responsible for 288 yards and four touchdowns in that same span.
The defense has struggled chiefly for Houston, especially against the pass. The Cougars let up nearly three passing touchdowns a game, easily the most within the American Athletic Conference. However, they were semi-decent against the run, allowing only 3.9 ground yards a pop.
As far back as the Paul Johnson days, the Midshipmen of Navy dominate games with their running attack. The triple offense, run by head coach Ken Niumatalolo, has been the identity of the Midshipmens’ offense since his first year in 2007. Unfortunately, after playing in a bowl game in ten of Niumatalolo’s first 12 seasons, the Midshipmen are in danger of missing postseason play for a third straight season. The 2022 rendition of Navy features a ton of newcomers in the backfield, with the exception being QB Tai Lavatai. Unsurprisingly, the Midshipmen are dead last in the AAC in passing attempts and passing yards, but a 43% completion percentage is problematic for a team that faces a loaded box as much as they do. Navy averages a ridiculous 61 rushing attempts per game but only averages 4.1 per carry, suitable for 73rd in FBS.
The Navy defense is tough against opposing running backs, surrendering a measly 3.1 yards a rush. However, the secondary remains an issue, allowing a 66% completion percentage against opposing quarterbacks.
Houston Cougars vs. Navy Midshipmen Prediction
The Houston Cougars are starting to find their stride, highlighted by a big come-from-behind win against Memphis. The Cougars’ defensive strength, the front seven, will match up well against the run-heavy Midshipmen of Navy. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen, who have struggled against the pass, will face the dynamic duo of QB Clayton Tune and WR Nathanial Dell.
Prediction: Houston -2.5 (-125)
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