Temple at Houston
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 10, TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas, 7 p.m. EST.
Houston looks to keep control of its own destiny in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference on Saturday when it hosts a Temple team looking for a path to get back atop the East.
The Cougars (7-2, 4-1 AAC West) lead Tulane and SMU by one game in the West Division with three games remaining, but lost to the Mustangs 45-31 last week and host the Green Wave next week.
Temple (5-4, 4-1 East) has a tougher task as it fell one game behind 11th-ranked UCF after a 52-40 defeat to the unbeaten Knights on Nov. 1. The Owls are tied with Cincinnati for second in the East but dealt the 25th-ranked Bearcats their only loss.
Owls fail to keep up with high-scoring Knights
Temple’s defense, which had played such a pivotal role in getting to the top of the East Division, came undone as UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton returned to the lineup after missing a game with various minor injuries.
The Owls were shredded for 630 yards — 203 more than they had given up in any previous game this season — ruining a career offensive night by Anthony Russo as he threw for career highs of 444 yards and four touchdowns and led Temple to a school-record 670 yards.
“The story of the game was we outgained them, but when we look at the penalties and we hurt ourselves in the red zone,” Temple coach Geoff Collins told Philly.com, referring to a missed field goal early in the fourth quarter while down 42-34 and a whopping 14 penalties for 149 yards.
Ryquell Armstead had 142 rushing yards before tweaking a previous ankle injury in the fourth quarter that sidelined him the previous two games. Armstead, who has topped 100 yards in five of his last six games, has 768 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Russo has thrown 12 of his 13 touchdown passes in the last four games, but he also has tossed at least one interception in seven consecutive contests. He has moved Temple’s offensive consistently on the road, throwing for 1,227 yards and six touchdowns in its four road games.
Coach Geoff Collins praises QB Anthony Russo’s performance and says he needed to do better job coaching the defense in Temple’s 52-40 loss to UCF. pic.twitter.com/4g4RIibS4L
— OwlsDaily (@TempleOwlsDaily) November 2, 2018
The Owls defense is looking to regain some pride after giving up a season-worst 312 passing yards after entering the game yielding 147.5 per contest. Temple’s run defense, however, has been horrid and given up 200 or more yards in five of the last six games.
Cougars try to rebound, stay atop AAC West
Houston was thwarted in a bid to strengthen its grip on the West Division lead, conceding 31 first-half points to the Mustangs while being unable to get a needed stop down 38-31 as SMU marched 60 yards in 13 plays while consuming nearly seven minutes to put the game out of reach.
The loss knocked the Cougars out of the AP Top 25 as they fell from No. 17 to out of the poll. Still, coach Major Applewhite was optimistic his team could rebound and reach the conference title game.
“Everything is still ahead of us,” Applewhite told The Associated Press. “We’re still the same football team we were the last five weeks when we won games, but we have to refocus.”
Some of that refocusing must come on the defensive side, where Houston has yielded 400 or more yards in five straight games and all but one contest this season after being torched for 514 by the Mustangs.
The Cougars have given up 324.0 passing yards per game along with 17 scoring tosses but could get a boost with the return of All-America defensive tackle Ray Oliver, who is on track to play in this game after missing the last two contests with a bruised right knee.
“We still continue to trust the team doctors on Ed and what’s best for him, ultimately,” Applewhite told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re just going to continue to monitor him.”
Houston was held to a season-low 365 yards offensively as it committed two turnovers for the third straight game while having its five-game winning streak snapped. The Cougars, though, still have plenty of big-play potential as Marquez Stevenson has team highs of 49 catches, 823 yards and 9 TDs.
10th reception of at least 30 yards this season for @Speedster_7 with a 35-yard catch.
— #HTownTakeover (@UHCougarFB) November 4, 2018
D’Eriq King picked an inopportune time to be ineffective, throwing for 175 yards — his second-lowest total of the season. King has been one of the most improved quarterbacks in the country with 30 TD passes and has thrown at least two in every game this season while amassing 2,578 yards. He also has 467 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground.
- No trends of note.
- The over is 5-2 in its last seven games.
- The over is 4-1 in its last five games after allowing more than 280 passing yards in the precious game.
- 22-6 ATS in its last 28 games vs. AAC teams.
- 6-0 ATS in its last six games as an underdog between 3.5 and 10 points.
- 13-5 ATS in its last 18 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- The over is 5-1 in its last six games as an underdog.
- The over is 5-1 in its last six games following a straight up loss.
- The over is 5-1 in its last seven games as a road underdog between 3.5 and 10 points.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Look for Temple to crib some notes from SMU’s playbook and flood the field with defensive backs and limited pass rushing to turn King and the Cougars into a more run-based offense. The Owls still butter their bread with their pass defense, and while King can do some of the things Milton did to great effect last week with UCF, Russo’s rapid progress gives Temple a margin of error that could allow them to cover if it fails to win outright.
Prediction: Pick: Temple +4.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Since the formation of the AAC, the under has hit in all four games between the teams while failing to surpass 41 points. The offenses of both teams this season, however, with Russo and Armstead for Temple as well as King’s dual-threat abilities for Houston, the over should finally deliver in this game.
And while people talk up the Owls’ pass defense, they still have yielded 36 or more points on three occasions. Houston’s defense also has moments of weakness, giving up 36 or more points in its last three games.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 69 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
Considering the Cougars have been held under this total just once this season, and that it came last week in a 45-31 loss, the chances are good Houston is going to come out ready for a fight. While Temple’s pass defense is a strength the Owls are still a team that has struggled against elite offenses.
Prediction: Pick: Houston OVER 37.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Houston has been a dynamic first-half team this season, averaging 29.5 points in its four home games and 24.3 overall. The Cougars have also been a plus-42 in games against FBS opponents at home in the first two quarters, and while the Owls will present a challenge, the hedge is Houston gets the job done.
Prediction: Pick: Houston -3
Half-Time Total Bet
In addition to Houston’s high-scoring ways in the first half, the Owls have proven themselves capable of putting up points as well. They scored 34 in the first two quarters of their last game at UCF and have scored 20 or more first-half points on four other occasions.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 36 points
Half-Time Prop Prediction
The Owls should be good for three first-half scores considering how well Russo and the offense have been performing of late. With this expected to be an up-and-down game, Temple should hit this number.
Prediction: Pick: Temple OVER 16.5 points