College Football Pick
Conference play begins this week for the AAC, which means the media hype surrounding Houston will only grow. And the Cougars get far from an easy matchup in the opener, traveling to Cincinnati on short rest.
The Bearcats almost gave Houston their first loss a year ago, helped via 523 passing yards and Four touchdowns from quarterback Gunner Kiel. But in the end, Houston’s ground Game led the way en route to a 33-30 win. That said, even at home, it was far from easy for Houston, even after a 30-14 lead late in the third quarter. Cincy outscored the home team the rest of the way with a couple long drives, but it wasn’t enough after turning it over on downs in their last possession.
But now, this Game is in Cincinnati on a Thursday. Houston is getting the love because of a win over Oklahoma and the hopes of going undefeated and giving the College Football Playoff committee a real problem at season’s end. But we are far from there. Let’s not forget all of the close wins Houston had a year ago, including a road loss at Connecticut. They aren’t invincible and Cincinnati knows that.
However, the Bearcats have a new offensive coordinator and quarterback this year and they haven’t been as electric early on, scoring just 28 points against UT-Martin. Everything is on QB Hayden Moore in this Game because there’s no doubt they’ll need to Scorepoints against Houston. In limited time last season, Moore had just nine TDs and 11 INTs. Now against a defense that held Oklahoma mostly in check, Moore will need to be on his Game. To help, the Bearcats will also need something from the ground Game, whether it’s Tion Green or Mike Boone. The Sooners couldn’t get much on the ground in their loss and that could cost Cincy too.
But how much will the short rest and travel affect Houston? This early in the season, it’s hard to tell, but one player it probably wont affect is Greg Ward Jr.
The mobile quarterback actually wasn’t the only reason for Houston’s upset of Oklahoma, as it was a team effort in every facet of the Game. That’s something that didn’t really happen all too often last season as the defense usually kept things close. But after only one yard on the ground and a special teams touchdown, the Cougars got the job done against the Sooners.
And that’s exactly where the issue is for the Bearcats after allowing 266 rushing yards in last year’s loss, 119 to Ward and 106 to the running back. This year’s ball carrier will be Duke Catalon, a former Texas product, who had 26 touches for 117 yards in that win over the Sooners. Expect Catalon and Ward to be used heavily once again. In Cincy’s opener, they allowed 177 rushing yards to a weak offense.
The Cougars are the favorite and one of the most-talked about teams in the nation, but this is definitely not a Game to sleep on. However, Houston definitely knows that after last year’s result. Can Hayden Moore keep up with Greg Ward on the scoreboard? That’s going to be the question here and on a short week, this is another Game that could go down to the wire between these teams.
Our Pick – If you like Houston, the time to play them has likely passed. They opened -6 and have been bet up to -8.5 as of this writing. It’s unlikely we’ll see a -6 or a -7 again. Once it crosses those key numbers, Our interest fades. At that point, we have to take a close look at the other side. Particulary if this number continues to rise and we see a +10 by Gametime. We’ll call this a lean on Cinci +8.5.
Check out Our friends at Docs Sports for this one as a few of their handicappers like this Game alot!