It’s a matchup of foes from the American Athletic Conference’s West Division in a week 8 matchup on the gridiron. The Houston Cougars look to keep rolling along as they visit the Navy Midshipmen Saturday afternoon. Houston won their third straight game as they defeated East Carolina 42-20 on the road last Saturday. Navy dropped their third in a row with a 24-17 home defeat at the hands of Temple last Saturday. The Cougars own a 3-1 edge in the all-time series, including a 24-14 home win in the last matchup on November 24, 2017.
Houston Cougars Seek Fourth Straight Win With High Powered Offense
Houston continued their assault of opposing defenses as they piled up another 42 points in their win over East Carolina. That marked the Cougars’ third straight win and they have yet to be held under 40 points this season. Houston jumped to a 14-0 edge after one quarter and never looked back as they put the hammer down on the Pirates. The Cougars were actually edged 415-406 in total offense, gave up 27 first downs to their 18 and lost the time of possession battle by a 33:13 to 26:47 margin in the game yet still cruised. Houston won the turnover battle, which was key as they forced four takeaways while not committing a giveaway in the game. One of those was a scoop six: the Cougars actually led 42-6 in the fourth quarter before giving up a pair of scores in garbage time. Houston is the lone team in the nation that ranks in the top 20 in rushing and passing offense this season.
— #HTownTakeover (@UHCougarFB) October 15, 2018
The Cougars average a healthy 306 yards per game through the air this season (17th in the FBS) while adding 246.8 yards per game (16th) on the ground. For the season, the team are among the nation’s elite offensively, ranking 3rd in the FBS with 48.7 points per game. Defensively, the Cougars are 78th in the country as they allow 28 points a contest. Houston has turned the QB duties over to D’Eriq King (116 of 184, 1571 yards, 20 TD, three INT, 225 rushing yards, eight TD) on a full-time basis. Clayton Tune (14 of 27, 201 yards, two TD) and Quintin Dormady (two of five, eight yards) are next on the depth chart. Mulbah Car (38 carries, 215 yards, TD), Baylor transfer Terence Williams (29 carries, 171 yards, TD) and Patrick Carr (58 carries, 362 yards, TD) are all talented running backs. Marquez Stevenson (32 grabs, 472 yards, six TD) leads the team in receptions. Courtney Lark (23 grabs, 318 yards, three TD) and Keith Corbin (20 catches, 394 yards, six TD) are very good secondary reception options in the passing game. Caden Novikoff is three of four on extra points and one of two on field goals with a long of 45. Dalton Witherspoon has booted all 35 of his extra point attempts along with three of four field goals with a long of 40.
Navy Midshipmen Try to Snap Losing Skid
Navy battled but came up on the short end of the stick against Temple for their third straight defeat. The Midshipmen have a tough task trying to get back in the win column in this contest. Navy held a 17-7 lead in the third quarter but saw things fall apart as Temple scored the final 17 points of the contest. The Midshipmen were outgained 409-284 and lost the first down battle 21-18 despite controlling the time of possession by a 33:07 to 26:53 margin. Navy forced two turnovers while committing only one but the lack of a passing attack, typical of the service academies, proved costly after falling behind in the fourth quarter.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 13, 2018
The Mids are dead last in the FBS in passing offense with 61.7 yards per game, mainly due to the fact that they have run the ball 356 times while throwing it just 60 this season. Navy is 3rd in the nation in rushing offense as they put up 303.7 yards per game. The Midshipmen are 75th in the nation in scoring offense with 28 points per contest and 98th in scoring defense by allowing 31.8 points per game. Garret Lewis has attempted the most passes for Navy, hitting 15 of 36 for 211 yards plus a score while adding 183 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Malcolm Perry is seven of 22 for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception: he leads the team with 632 rushing yards plus six scores. Zach Abey is one of two for 17 yards. Nelson Smith contributes 50 carries for 281 yards plus a touchdown while Anthony Gargiulo adds 43 carries for 159 yards on the year. CJ Williams (148 yards) and Taylor Jackson (78 yards) each have six catches to tie for the team lead. Bennett Moehring has hit all 19 extra points and five of his six field goal attempts with a long of 45.
- Midshipmen are 0-4-2 ATS in their last 6 games in October
- Midshipmen are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall
- Midshipmen are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game
- Cougars are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a losing home record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is going to be a massive challenge for Navy because Houston can do damage on the ground or through the air with equal precision and speed. The Cougars are in the top 20 in both facets of offense and are 3rd in the nation in scoring. Navy’s defense is 76th in the country in rushing and 71st against the pass, which puts them squarely in mediocre status. On the flip side, where the Cougars are weak, the Midshipmen can’t capitalize: Houston is last in the FBS in pass defense but Navy is last in passing offense. Houston is 20th against the run, which makes the Midshipmen’s third-ranked run offense a little less potent. Navy may be looking to next week’s matchup with Notre Dame: Ed Oliver, who had five tackles for loss last week, and the Cougars roll to another win.
Prediction: Houston Cougars -13
Full-Game Total Pick
Navy is going to have to deal with what Houston brings to the table and it’s safe to say that no one has slowed them down much this year. The Cougars’ low point total on the season is 41: in their lone loss this season, they scored 49 points. Navy is going to be hard-pressed to try and keep up with the high octane Houston offense. Oliver is a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line: can Navy come up with a game plan to neutralize or at least slow the man that is a potential #1 overall pick? If not, the Midshipmen are going to have a long day in front of them.
The under is 4-0 in Houston’s last four conference games, 7-1 in their last eight in October, 5-1 in their last 6 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 9-2 in their last 11 against teams with a losing record and 7-2 in their last nine on the road. Navy has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four in October, 6-1 in their last seven after allowing at least 280 yards through the air and 4-1 in their last five against teams with a winning record. Houston should get their points here but it might be too much to ask of Navy to put up 20 plus to push this one over the number.
Prediction: Under 63.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
As we mentioned, Houston hasn’t been held to less than 41 points in a game this season and the Cougars are extremely dangerous on that side of the ball. When you’re third in the nation in scoring offense at this point of the season, it’s clear that you can put up plenty of points regardless of opposition. Navy has a major challenge ahead of them given the versatility of Houston’s offense and their playmakers at multiple skill positions. The Cougars end up over the number again in this one.
Prediction: Houston Cougars Over 35.5 (-120)
Half-Time Side Pick
Houston has a high octane offense that hasn’t been slowed yet this season. Navy has been up and down this season and they aren’t the same team that we’ve seen in recent years that have had a ton of success. The Midshipmen are going to have a tough time running the ball with Oliver in the middle of the defensive line. Houston can pound the ball on the ground and move it through the air. That’s too much for Navy to handle as the Cougars hold the edge at the half.
Prediction: Houston Cougars -7 (-110)
Half-Time Total Bet
The Cougars haven’t been held under 40 points in a game yet this season. Navy has given up at least 31 points in three of their six games and haven’t allowed less than 21 in a game this season. Houston’s ability to put together an explosive offense by moving the ball through the air or on the ground is a challenge that most teams can’t pose. The Cougars are in the top 20 in the FBS in both categories, which is going to stretch Navy’s defense thin. Navy will do their best to grind the clock with the run game but they’re going to face a steep climb if they fall behind multiple scores. As it stands, the Cougars’ offense helps push this one over the number at the half.
Prediction: Over 30 (-110)
Half-Time Prop Prediction
Houston’s explosive offense has been a challenge for every team so far this season. Even when the Cougars were defeated earlier this season by Texas Tech, they still put up 49 points. Houston has piled up 80 first quarter points this season and has a pair of 21 point barrages in the opening quarter. Navy is going to have their work cut out defensively and they’re not up to the task. Houston puts the first points of the game on the board.
Prediction: Houston Cougars to Score First -200