SMU at Houston
Saturday, 4 pm PT - CBSC
CRIS Opener: Houston -8.5 O/U 61
CRIS Current: Houston -6.5 O/U 61.5
SMU is one of the few teams who has yet to suffer a pointspread defeat (4-1 SU/5-0 ATS). The Mustangs offense has been rolling under the guidance of head coach Chad Morris and second-year starting quarterback Ben Hicks. Hicks has thrown 14 TDs and just 3 INTs and while at times erratic (54% completions YTD) he enters off of a season-best 73% in last week’s blowout win over UConn. Overall, SMU has scored 36+ points in every game including against a solid TCU defense. Their balanced attack, which is averaging just shy of 200 ypg on the ground and slightly over 300 ypg through the air, can cause some havoc against Houston. Defense is a strength for the Cougars but they have only faced one real good offense so far in Texas Tech and the Red Raiders rolled up 521 total yards. It’s also worth noting Houston’s terrific standout defensive tackle Ed Oliver may not suit up in this game due to a sprained ankle injury which he sustained last week against Temple.
On the other side of the equation, the departures in the offseason of former head coach Tom Herman and quarterback Greg Ward Jr. have been very impactful. Under head coach Major Applewhite, the offense has been spotty and now there is a quarterback controversy with Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen on the bench and Kyle Postma under center. Houston has been held to 24 points or less in three of four games; they managed to top the 30 point against woeful Rice. SMU has some defensive holes but I’m not sure Houston has the cohesion and chemistry on offense as of this moment to take advantage of those issues. SMU has outgained its last two opponents (UConn and Arkansas State) by a combined 251 yards and fared well (2-0 ATS, +45 total yardage) in two meetings against Houston since Morris took over in 2015. The price has certainly been adjusted (SMU was +23.5 and +25) but a lot has changed and the sizeable gap no longer remains. Worth the effort to seek out +7 with a very capable underdog.