Houston Cougars Host Southern Miss Golden Eagles in Conference USA Championship Game

Conference USA Football Championship Game
#24 Southern Miss Golden Eagles at #6 Houston Cougars
Robertson Stadium – Houston, Texas
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Houston -13
Current Line: Houston -13
Opening Total: 70 1/2
Current Total: 71 1/2
Opening Money Line: Houston -485 / Southern Miss +415
Current Money Line: Houston -485 / Southern Miss +415

The Houston Cougars host Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship Saturday. The 12-0 Cougars are 13 point favorites and will clinch a BCS berth with a win.

The Houston Cougars are 12-0 and ranked #6 in the BCS standings. If they win the Conference USA Championship game Saturday against 10-2 Southern Miss, then the Cougars will clinch a berth in a lucrative BCS Bowl game, likely the Sugar Bowl. A loss for the Cougars would be disastrous and they would likely fall to either the Liberty Bowl or the Hawaii Bowl. Southern Miss could be headed to the Liberty Bowl, regardless of whether they win or lose this game. Houston is coached by Kevin Sumlin, and is undefeated for the first time in school history. Southern Miss is coached by Larry Fedora. The Golden Eagles have two losses by a total of 9 points to Marshall and UAB. Southern Miss leads the overall series 8-5 against Houston, but the Cougars are 4-3 in Houston. Southern Miss won last year in Hattiesburg, 59-41.

Last week, Southern Miss hosted Memphis. The Golden Eagles were up 44-0 at the end of the third quarter. The Golden Eagles had 2 defensive touchdowns on 35 and 100 yard interception returns. Memphis recovered a fumble in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to make the final 44-7. Southern Miss was a 37 point favorite on the college football betting line, so the late Memphis score resulted in a push. Each team had 3 turnovers. The Golden Eagles had 540 total yards including 255 rushing yards. USM quarterback Austin Davis threw for 277 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. He also had 26 rushing yards and a touchdown. Running back Desmond Johnson had 11 carries for 103 yards, and 2 catches for 57 yards. Wide receiver Tracy Lampley had 5 catches 116 yards and a touchdown, along with 7 carries for 44 yards. Ryan Balentine had a 41 yard touchdown catch for his only reception of the day. Memphis had 181 yards including just 7 rushing yards, and 14 first downs.

Southern Miss averages 469.8 yards and 36.9 points a game. The Golden Eagles average 261.9 passing yards and 207.8 rushing yards a game. Southern Miss has 25 turnovers and has allowed 15 sacks this season. The Eagles are 85/189 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/50 scoring in the red zone with 27 touchdowns. USM is allowing 338.4 yards and 20.5 points a game. The Golden Eagles allow 221 passing yards and 117.4 rushing yards a game. USM has forced 24 turnovers and 23 sacks this season. Eagle opponents are 84/214 on third and fourth down conversions and 30/41 scoring in the red zone with 20 touchdowns. Southern Miss averages just over 7 penalties a game for 65 yards. The Eagles have 11 defensive/special teams touchdowns including 7 interception returns.

Davis is 251/401 passing for 3,052 yard with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 92 carries, 285 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Running back Jamal Woodyard has 102 carries, 653 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 17 catches, 159 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Kendrick Hardy has 72 carries, 426 yards, and 2 touchdowns, plus 10 catches. Hardy has missed the last 7 games and is questionable with a shoulder injury for this game. Lampley has 70 carries, 379 yards, and 3 touchdowns along with 37 catches for 424 yards and a touchdown. Lampley has over 1,500 all purpose yards and has a punt return for a touchdown. Jeremy Hester has 59 carries, 291 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Balentine has 46 catches, 718 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Kelvin Bolden has 53 catches, 641 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Kicker Danny Hrapmann is 51/52 on extra points and 22/30 on field goals with a long of 49 yards. Linebacker Korey Williams is out for the season.

Last week, Houston traveled to Tulsa in a battle for the C-USA West Division Title. Houston was a one point favorite on the road. Tulsa was up 10-6 at the end of the first quarter. The Cougars had an extra point attempt blocked in that quarter. Houston took a 13-10 lead going into halftime. Houston scored in the third quarter to go up 20-10. Tulsa kicked two field goals to pull within 20-16, but Houston outscored them 28-0 from that point on to win 48-16. The Golden Hurricane had 3 turnovers in the loss, while Houston had 1. The Cougars had 558 total yards including 474 passing yards. Heisman trophy contending quarterback Case Keenum threw for 457 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Cougars. Back-up Cotton Turner threw a touchdown pass late when the game was decided. Running back Michael Hayes had a rushing touchdown for Houston. Running back Charles Sims had 12 carries for 48 yards and 4 catches, 51 yards, and a touchdown catch. Receiver Patrick Edwards had 8 catches for 181 yards and 4 touchdowns. Justin Johnson had 7 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Houston shut down the high powered offense of Tulsa, holding the Golden Hurricane to 337 total yards and 176 passing yards.

Houston has the #1 ranked offense in the country averaging 613.2 yards a game including the #1 passing attack with 449.7 yards a game and average 163.6 rushing yards a game. The Cougars are scoring 52.7 points a game which is also #1 in the country. Houston has 13 turnovers and has allowed 14 sacks this season. The Cougars are 102/185 on third and fourth down conversions. Houston is 56/65 scoring in the red zone with 46 touchdowns. On defense, The Cougars are allowing 377.4 yards a game and 20.9 points a game. Houston is allowing 168.8 rushing yards and 208.8 passing yards a game. Houston has forced 25 turnovers and 29 sacks this season. Cougar opponents are 79/206 on third and fourth down conversions, and 29/43 in the red zone with 25 touchdowns. Houston has 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Keenum is 342/467 (73.2% completion) passing with 4,726 yards, 43 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also has 44 carries for 43 yards and 3 touchdowns. Turner has 6 touchdown passes and an interception, along with 2 rushing touchdowns, in limited action this season. Running backs Bryce Beall,  Sims,  and Hayes split most of the carries. Sims has 95 carries, 750 yards, and 9 touchdowns, and 36 catches, 476 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Hayes has 121 carries, 657 yards, and 9 touchdowns, along with 37 catches, 445 yards, and 4 touchdowns.  Beall has 53 carries, 311 yards, and 7 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 107 yards.  Including Hayes and Sims, six Cougar receivers have at least 27 catches. Edwards has 74 catches, 1,496 yards, and 18 scores. Edwards has just over 1,700 all purpose yards and has a punt return for a touchdown. Johnson  has 63 catches, 910 yards and 9 touchdowns.Tyron Carrier has 83 catches, 875 yards, and 5 touchdown catches. He has a kick return for a touchdown, and has over 1,500 all-purpose yards. E.J. Smith has 27 catches for 297 yards and two touchdowns.   Daniel Spencer only has 11 catches but has two touchdowns.  Kicker Matt Hogan is 84/85 on extra points and 10/12 on field goals with a long of 35 yards. He missed his first extra point of the year in the Tulsa game.   Houston has no players listed on the injury report.

Houston is 10-2 against the spread and the total is 7-5 this season. Southern Miss is 7-4-1 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. The favorite is 5-0 ATS in this series and so is the home team. The last 4 games have gone over the total. The Golden Eagles are 4-0 ATS after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 5-1 in road games against a team with winning home records, and on grass, 4-1 against teams with winning records, on the road, as a road underdog of 10.5 points or more, 7-2-1 overall, and 6-2 after a straight up win. The Cougars are 6-0 ATS after scoring 40 points or more, at home, after a cover, on grass, and after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 7-0 in conference games, as a favorite, and following a straight up win, and overall, 4-0 after allowing less than 20 points, 10-1 as a home favorite of 10.5 points or more, 13-3 as a home favorite, 17-5 as a favorite of 10.5 points or more, 5-2 at home against against teams with winning road records, and 1-4 in December.

Both these teams have explosive offenses and underrated defenses. However, Houston has the best offense in the country. If Southern Miss gets down early, I don’t know if they can catch up. Houston has far too much to lose and I don’t see them letting up this close to their goal of undefeated season.

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