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Southern Miss vs. Houston - Conference USA Championship Game

12/3/11

The undefeated Houston Cougars host 10-2 Southern Miss in the Conference USA Title game on Saturday. A win not only captures the conference title but also lands the Cougars in a BCS Bowl game, likely the Sugar Bowl. Houston is listed as a 13 point favorite with a total of 71 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

Houston is led by 6th year senior and Heisman Trophy candidate QB Case Keenum who has simply lit it up this year with the Cougars having the #1 ranked scoring offense in all of college football, averaging 53 points per game. The Houston game plan each week is simple. Put a boatload of points on the board and see if the opponent can keep up. So far, no one has. A few teams have come close. UCLA, La Tech and UTEP all came within a TD while scoring 34, 34 and 42. But those games were in September. Since then, their smallest margin of victory has been 30 points.

If any team in conference USA has a chance, it's Southern Miss. Their offense isn't quite as explosive as the Cougars but it is the 15th ranked total offense in the country at 37 points per game and if you're backing Southern Miss, there's you're chance. In what looks like an obvious shootout, you're hoping Southern Miss can do what UCLA, La Tech and UTEP did earlier in the year and stay within the number. You'd have to be a little worried at your chances though after seeing the Eagles lose to 3-9 UAB and only beat 5-7 UCF by a point.

For you conspiracy theory buffs out there, consider this. If Houston wins the game and earns a BCS bowl game, the conference gets 17 million dollars. 17 million dollars that the lowly Conference-USA could surely use. Think a few calls may go against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles Saturday? Hmmmm.

Yards per point numbers against a fairly even schedule would have Houston favored by under a touchdown. Our model likes Houston by a score of 42-28 when  using season to date numbers and most of those games are against common conference opponents, 8 in all.

We try and give the best betting advice we can here each week. We write up these marquee games because everyone will be watching them and many of you will bet these games simply because they are on TV (the wrong reason to bet). So, we'll offer our best opinion on a game like this but you also must understand that for us, this game simply isn't playable.

If the number goes past two touchdowns, we'd lean towards Southern Miss with a punchers chance. Houston likely wins this game but the back door should always be a possibility in what figures to be a shootout. Note that the last two times these two squared off, over 90 total points were scored. So, perhaps over the total of 71 has a chance to get there. Southern Miss +14 or more

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