Week 3 of the NCAAF regular season gets underway on Friday night with a handful of games. The most appealing contest of the bunch is also the last game of the evening to kick off. The Washington State Cougars will be on the road to take on the Houston Cougars, a meeting of two high-powered offenses under the primetime lights at NRG Stadium.
Washington State has opened up its year with a pair of dominant victories. The team scored 50+ points in both outings while holding their opponents to a combined total of 24 points. The competition level ramps up this week in advance of Pac-12 play, which kicks off for the team on September 21 with a home date versus UCLA.
Houston enters this game with a record of 1-1. After falling to Oklahoma in a primetime affair in Week 1, the team bounced back to pick up a convincing victory over Prairie View A&M last time out. Conference play gets underway for Houston next week as well. Next Thursday night, they’ll be on the road to take on AAC rival Tulane.
This game marks a great chance for both programs to make a statement on national television in front of a primetime audience. A healthy projected point total also suggests we could see a fireworks show in Houston on Friday night. Let’s take a look at the matchup in full detail, starting with the way the NCAAF betting sites see it.
Washington State vs. Houston, 9:15 PM EST, Fri. Sept.13, ESPN
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Washington State vs. Houston Pick:
On Saturday, Washington State was home for a date with Northern Colorado. The team held a 24-10 lead at the half and ran away with the game from that point, walking off the field with a 59-17 win. Anthony Gordon was fantastic in the victory, completing 31 of 39 for 464 yards, four scores and a pick. The defense forced four turnovers in the win.
Houston was also home last weekend for a game with Prairie View A&M. The team roared out to a 24-3 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 37-17 win. D’Eriq King had three total TDs in the victory, but he only completed 15 of 26 for 139 yards and threw an INT as well. The Houston defense managed to rack up three sacks and force a turnover.
|Washington State||11-2||7-2||488||303||W1||2-P12 North||#10||W-Alamo|
|Houston||8-5||5-3||571||483||L2||1-AAC East||NA||L-Armed Forces|
In the season opener, Washington State picked up a 58-7 victory over visiting New Mexico State. Gordon had himself another stellar game. He threw for 420 yards and five scores on 29 of 35 passing. The defense got to the quarterback three times and forced three turnovers. Last season, Washington State was one of the top squads in the Pac-12, and it looks like they could hit that mark again.
Houston faced a daunting matchup in Week 1 as they traveled to Norman to take on Oklahoma. This was Jalen Hurts first start for the Sooners. He fit right in with six total scores in a 49-31 win. King threw for 167 yards and had three total TDs in the loss. Houston was a big factor in the AAC last season. Dana Holgorsen has taken over as head coach, but it could be more of the same in 2019.
Through two games, Washington State is averaging 58.5 points per game and allowing an average of 12.0. Those numbers are inflated due to two contests versus lesser foes and should level out as conference play moves along. That said, the program has impressed in the early going. They could make some noise this year, but the Pac-12 North is a tough division which includes Washington and Oregon.
Houston is averaging 34.0 points per game and allowing 33.0 after two weeks. The offense is off to a slower pace than 2018, but there’s also a new system involved. Oklahoma dropped a good amount of points in Week 1, but the defense has talent and could improve as the season moves along. The AAC has a number of solid programs this year, including a Memphis team which resides in the same division.
This will be the first meeting of these programs since 1988, a 24-22 victory for Washington State as 4.5-point favorites. On the year, Washington State is 1-1 both against the spread and on totals. Houston is 1-1 ATS and 0-1-1 on the Over/Under.
Last year, Washington State was 11-2 ATS while Houston was 6-7. On totals, the visitors were 7-6 while Houston was 9-4. As away favorites in 2018, Washington State was a perfect 3-0 both straight-up and ATS. Houston was not in a home dog situation in 2018.
In the latest AP Top 25 poll, Washington State checked in at 20th. That leaves them behind fellow Pac-12 schools Utah and Oregon – 11th and 15th respectively – but ahead of #23 Washington. Getting over the hump that is the Huskies has proved challenging for Washington State.
Washington holds a 73-32-6 lead in the all-time series and has also won the last six in a row for the annual game. For Washington State to make it to the next level and take down the conference, they’ll need to take a big step and vanquish their rivals this time around.
For Houston, the team contended in the AAC last season. They could do the same again in 2019, but questions abound on how Holgorsen’s first year at the helm will go. We’ll have to wait and see on that, but the program will at least be competitive this season.
As for this contest, Washington State is simply the more complete team. They have a potent offense and an underrated defense. We like them to win the game outright and cover the spread to boot.