Memphis Tigers (8-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Houston Cougars (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 14, 7:00PM ET
Where: TDECU Stadium Houston, Texas
TV: ESPN 2
by Bob, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MEM +6 /HOU -6
Over/Under Total: OFF
This Saturday evening, we get to see one of the most anticipated match-ups of the 2015 season that does not involve a Power Five Conference when the Memphis Tigers travel into Houston and battle the Houston Cougars. This game however has lost a bit of its luster since Memphis was upset this past Saturday when Navy beat them by a 45-20 score. I knew the Navy game would not be easy for Memphis, but I thought and hoped that the Tigers would get the win. I would also bet money that Houston was hoping Memphis would come into this game unbeaten as well. An American Athletic Conference team, even going unbeaten, would have problems making the final four, so Houston needs all the style points and big wins they can get, not that Memphis has a loss, it ruins the strength of schedule that is already in question for Houston. This series between Memphis and Houston dates back to 1963 which was a game that was won by Houston and over the years, the Cougars have built up a 14-9 series lead. This will be the sixth meeting since 2006, and Houston has been victorious in all five meetings during that span.
Houston opens as a six point favorite in this game and so far the public is not buying it. 54% of the action is on Memphis to cover the spread on the road. Maybe it was the win over Ole Miss that has the public still believing in Memphis or it could be the fact that coming off of a loss that Memphis will be more focused on ruining Houstons season as well. Although this game has lost a little meaning, I will probably still tune in and see whats up with it.
Houston is still clinging to the dream of making the college football playoff and a win over Memphis will keep the hope alive. Houston does not have a very impressive resume and this is not their fault, its just how it is being an American Athletic Conference team. Wins over Texas State, Tulsa, and UCF are not going to turn heads, but with that said, they do also have a win over ACC member, Louisville, and they did shut out Vanderbilt from the SEC, 34-0a Vanderbilt team that was just minutes away from beating the Florida Gators this past Saturday, only to lose 9-7. Maybe Houston deserves more respect than they are getting. Also, in their wins, they are dominant for the most part. Check out these scores from the 2015 season: 52-24, 42-7, 59-10, and 34-0. Those were the blowouts, but they also beat a very talented Cincinnati Bearcats team by a 33-30 score and Louisville on the road 34-31. These guys can play, bottom line. Are they one of the best four team in the nation? Probably not, but if they run the table the rest of the season I think they deserve consideration to at least prove it. To get this win and to cover the six points against Memphis, Houston needs to get rolling early. Memphis, even though they have only one loss, have been a come from behind team all season. If Houston can jump up two scores or so this weekend, its a done deal and I dont think Memphis recovers. However, if Houston lets Memphis stay close or take a lead into halftime, things could be interesting late in the contest.
Memphis is the higher ranked team still but a loss this weekend would more than likely end their national top 25 status. From a schedule standpoint, Memphis and Houston are very similar. Actually, on paper, and just my personal eye test, Houston has had been more impressive. With the exception of the Ole Miss upset, Memphis does not have anymore truly impressive wins and now that they have a loss to an unranked Navy team, that makes it look even worse. I will add though that even though Navy was unranked, they are still a solid 7-1 on the season and unbeaten in conference play, so, compared to other conference foes, it was a pretty good match-up, but to lose by 20+, that is what hurts the most. Statistically speaking, Memphis still ranks rather high in offensive categories. They are tied for 6th in the nation in scoring offense at 44 points per game while they rank 9th in the nation in passing with over 350 a game and add another 195 a game on the ground. These guys can move the ball and scorequick. And that is the key this weekend for Memphis. Not only can they not start slow and get behind, they need to show Houston that they will match them score for score and make this a dog fight. If Memphis is within striking distance headed to the fourth quarter, I can see them crushing Houstons pipe dream of a national title run.
This game will be a fun one but I am pulling for Houston, just because I want the college playoff committee to deal with more drama. I am not an advocate for a 16 team playoff, or even an 8 team one. In my opinion, the perfect amount would be a six team field and the top two teams, number one and two get a first round bye, but who am I, right? Okay, back to this game. I like Houston a lot but I also like Memphis. No result will surprise me in the game. Although I like Houston a little more, in a game when I feel either team can win, I always take the points I am given by Vegas. Houston will win a 35-33 battle this Saturday, but Memphis gets the cover.
Bobs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take the Memphis Tigers +6
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