Temple Owls at Houston Cougars (-7.5, 51)
The American Athletic Conference’s top two defenses will meet
in a primetime clash Friday when Temple visits Houston. The
host Cougars lead the AAC in total defense while the Owls lead
the league – and are ranked fourth nationally – in scoring
defense. The Owls have also turned 17 turnovers into a
national-best 79 points.
Houston, which has 19 takeaways this season and at least one in
29 straight games, must overcome significant changes on both
sides of the ball. Receiver-turned-quarterback Greg Ward Jr.
will make his second start at the position after replacing John
O’Korn, and the Cougars lost second-leading receiver Daniel
Spencer to a knee injury last week in practice. The Houston
defense, which is allowing 322.7 yards and 19.2 points, lost
junior cornerback Lee Hightower (leg) and senior linebacker
Derrick Mathews (knee) to season-ending injuries in last week’s
win at Memphis.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU.
LINE: The Cougars opened as 6-point home
favorites and have been bet up to -7.5. The total opened at
48.5 and has been bet up all the way to 51.
INJURY REPORT: Houston – DB Lee Hightower (out
for season, leg), LB Derrick Mathews (out for season, knee).
Temple – N/A.
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a great night for
football at TDECU Stadium with temperatures in the mid 70s and
a six mile per hour wind blowing from the south.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Temple is 4-1 on the
season, but they’ve played an extremely weak schedule.
The Owls offense has scored 24 points or more in every
game, but again, they’ve played weak competition. Houston is
off an unexpected 28-24 win at Memphis last Saturday night as
7.5-point underdogs. The Cougars won that game despite
turning the ball over 3 times; they were aided by 5 Memphis
turnovers. Houston’s offense should have little trouble
moving the ball on Temple, but it is risky to lay 7.5 points
with a mediocre team.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril
ABOUT TEMPLE (4-1, 3-2 ATS, 2-3 O/U): The
Owls, who allow 14.4 points, lead the nation in red-zone
defense by allowing just six scores (four touchdowns, two field
goals) in 12 trips. Jalen Fitzpatrick has emerged as a
consistent target for P.J. Walker (97-of-157 for 1,099 yards
and 9 TDs) and leads Temple with 24 catches for 395 yards and a
touchdown in each game. Jahad Thomas rushed for 152 yards last
week against Tulsa to climb atop Temple’s trio of running
backs, leading Jamie Gilmore (187 yards, one TD) and Kenneth
Harper (113 yards, two TDs) with 258 yards.
ABOUT HOUSTON (3-3, 3-3 ATS, 1-5 O/U): Ward,
who made eight appearances last year as the backup quarterback
before moving to receiver, gave the Cougars’ offense a spark
last week and has two rushing touchdowns and one passing on the
season. The backfield duo of Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson
have combined for 648 rushing yards and six scores while
Deontay Greenberry leads the Cougars with 25 catches for 395
yards and two scores. Elandon Roberts will start in place of
Mathews while a rotation of players will fill Hightower’s role
in the secondary.
* Temple is 6-0 ATS in its last six road games.
* Houston is 1-4 ATS in its last five home games.
* Over is 5-0 in Temple’s last five games on fieldturf.
* Under is 4-0 in Houston’s last four home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Almost 59 percent of wagers are
backing the road underdogs Temple at +7.5-points.