The Conference USA Championship game features the 24th ranked Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi (10-2) taking on the 7th ranked Houston Cougars (12-0) this Saturday (12:00 pm ET) in Houston, TX. Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles rebounded last week from a shocking 34-31 loss to UAB two weeks ago as a 23.5 point favorite to defeat Memphis 44-7 at home and push on the 37 point line. Houston rolled at Tulsa last week by a score of 48-16 to easily cover as a one-point favorite. Southern Miss is 7-4-1 ATS this season, while Houston is an impressive 10-2 ATS.
The offense for the Golden Eagles has been spectacular, averaging 36.9 points per game to rank 15th in the nation, and also ranking 15th nationally in total offense with 469.8 yards per game behind a strong running attack that averages 207.8 YPG (24th in the nation). The Southern Miss defense allows 20.5 PPG (25th in the nation) and 338.4 YPG to also rank 25th in the nation. Houston is known for their dynamic offense with record-setting quarterback Case Keenum (4,726 passing yards, 43 TDs, 3 INTs) commanding an attack that ranks first in the nation in: scoring (52.7 PPG), total offense (613.2 YPG) and passing offenses (449.7 YPG). The Cougar defense has allowed 20.9 PPG (30th nationally) and an average of 377.7 YPG to rank 60th in the nation in total defense.
Southern Miss. vs. Houston St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Southern Miss. Golden Eagles +14
@ Houston Cougars -14
Over 72 (-110)
Under 72 (-110)
Southern Miss. vs. Houston Pick:
The Golden Eagles are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against teams with winning records. Houston is 7-0 ATS in their last 7 Conference USA games and 6-0 ATS in their last 6 home games. The over is 8-3 in Southern Mississippi’s last 11 games as an underdog and 4-1-1 in their last 6 games in December. The over is 15-7 in Houston’s last 22 conference games and 21-10 in their last 31 games overall. In head-to-head play, the over is 4-0 in the team’s last 4 meetings and the favorite and home teams are both 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Southern Miss is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 meetings with the Cougars in Houston. Southern Miss won 59-41 last season at home as a 3.5 point favorite to stop a two-game Cougar winning streak in the series.
The Cougars are the favorite in this on based on their record-setting offense and gaudy record, but Southern Miss has the better defensive unit and the Golden Eagles have played Keenum and company tough, beating them handily last season. Southern Miss has not fared well against the Cougars on the road, however and that makes it tough to take them plus the points here. Both teams can score in bunches, with Southern Miss featuring a much more balanced attack. Keenum will definitely get his share of points on the board, and Southern Miss is going to have to throw more than they are accustomed to keep up, and they can certainly do so. The two teams combined for over 1,100 yards of total offense in their last meeting, with Southern Miss. registering over 600 of those, including almost 300 yards passing by QB Austin Davis, so expect some fireworks in this one. 72 is a big number to go over but these two teams should certainly be able to do it. If you like prolific offense this will be a great game to watch, take the over in this one. These two teams could go over 72 by the third quarter.