Time: 3 PM ET
Spread: HOU -17
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Cougars have lit it up through Week 5, emerging with a flawless 5-0 record after knocking off lowly UConn last week. Houston now travels to face Navy at 3 PM (EDT) on CBS. The Cougars are 17-point favorites over struggling Navy, and it is a bit of a long shot to expect the Midshipmen to hold their own with the No. 6 team in the nation.
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The Cougars are making a name for themselves, and the American Athletic Conference. Winning the conference is nearly a foregone conclusion, but can Houston make waves nationally? Can they parlay their way into the BCS tournament? It is still something of a stretch, but the impossible is no longer—this is a team that can move the football, and it has sufficient defense to ensure plenty of blowouts.
No win has come by any less than 10-points, and that 33-23 victory in fact came over then-No. 3 Oklahoma. It was a smashing start to what may be the best season in school history.
Houston really does not lack whether it be creating via the air, or on the ground. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. has done both, certainly. Ward has thrown for 1,325 yards on 70 percent passing while also having rushed for another 178 yards on 63 carries. He has thrown eight TDs, while having rushed for another five. Leading rusher Duke Catalon has been successful, too, averaging 4.7 yards per carry while accounting for (only) one TD.
Houston has rushed for the end zone 16 times already through five games, and eight players have a rushing TD to their name. Backup QB Kyle Postma has been a good rush attacker, with a team-leading 11.2 yard per carry average on his 11 attempts. The Cougars, though, have five players with over 100 yards. There are plenty getting in on the high scoring action.
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But does Navy have any chance to slow them? The Midshipmen are historically a poor defensive team, known for relying on the rush on offense. Even losing Keenan Reynolds to gradation (and the NFL) does little to change that. Navy is 3-1 on the year after losing last week to Air Force (would not have happened last season, obviously).
The Midshipmen took care of business, though, in Weeks 1 through 3, with wins over Fordham, UConn and Tulane. This contest against Houston will push them to their limits, though, and it is only currently ranked opponent that Navy will encounter this season. After all, Houston is the only ranked team in the AAC.
Chris High has got it done for Navy out of the backfield, and Will Worth, Dishan Romine and Toneo Gulley all have 100 yards or more on the season too. Worth has thrown for 527 yards at a 58 percent clip, but this is still a running team.
Navy has just one receiving TD on the year while having rushed for 14. Jamir Tillman is the only receiver to speak of, with 18 catches for 271 yards. No one else has caught more than three passes through Navy’s four games.
Expect this game to be a ground heavy attack for both squads, but Houston is the one with better ponies in the backfield. The 17-point spread seems generous, but there is not much slowing Houston and Navy is not a good defensive team.
It should still be an entertaining affair and the Midshipmen may be able to give Houston at least one good half of college football. Houston, however, seems to be poised to improve to 6-0 as it continues its quest as a small conference contender.
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