The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (10-2) and Houston Cougars (12-0) will meet up in the Conference USA championship Saturday afternoon inside Robertson Stadium.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Houston Cougars
Southern Miss tallied an impressive 44-7 win over the Memphis Tigers as 37-point home favorites last week, finishing the game with a 359-yard advantage statistically. The program will look to make it two in a row in this series, capturing a 59-41 victory as 3.5-point home favorites a year ago.
“We wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” commented Golden Eagles defensive coordinator Dan Disch about the challenge of facing the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense. “But it’s a heckuva challenge.”
The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series, 8-5, but will attempt to snap a three-game losing streak inside Saturday’s venue. The two teams have combined for 58.8 points per game over the 13 games in the series, with the winning team scoring at least 30 points nine times.
Senior quarterback Austin Davis is the leader of the offense, needing just 77 yards to eclipse the school-record for single-season passing. He holds the current mark of 3,128 that he set in 2008. In last year’s meeting, Davis connected on 24 of 31 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns.
Bettors will find that the Golden Eagles have covered both opportunities as an underdog this year, while the ‘over’ is 6-3 in that situation the last two-plus years.
Houston is looking for its 13th win on the season, which would extend this season’s school record total. “Fifteen weeks ago, we set out for one goal and that goal has not changed all year,” commented Cougars coach Kevin Sumlin. “The ultimate goal for us from day one was to win the conference championship.”
The Cougars will be appearing in this particular game for the third time, tallying a 34-20 win over Southern Miss in 2006, while dropping a 38-32 decision to East Carolina in 2009. Saturday will be the first time the program has hosted a ranked team since 2008.
Offensively, the unit has scored at least 35 points in 12-straight games, which is a school-record, all led by the exploits of senior quarterback Case Keenum. The Heisman Trophy candidate is the NCAA’s career leader in throwing for 18,312 passing yards.
Sumlin will put his perfect 8-0 record on the line when playing at home as a ranked team, while the program has won 21 consecutive games in that situation. Keenum has won 23 consecutive home games, including 21 when starting.
Bettors will find that the home team is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings, which fits nicely with the Cougars being 6-1 ATS when hosting in this series.
Recommendation: Houston Cougars -14
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