SM at Houston Preview
Houston, TX - An unusually balanced offense helped Houston win its 12th straight home game. That's the same formula the Cougars used to win the 2006 Conference USA championship game against Southern Mississippi.
The 15th-ranked Cougars and their vaunted passing game look to extend their home winning streak Saturday when they face the Golden Eagles for the first time in nearly three years.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made X point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on X (View College Football bet percentages).
Houston (6-1, 2-1) is second among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing (2,822 yards), but it relied on its ground game and defense to beat SMU 38-15 last Saturday night.
Charles Sims ran for a career-high 105 yards and two touchdowns, including a 20-yard dash to open the scoring. The Cougars finished with a season-high 161 yards rushing on 37 carries.
Houston quarterback Case Keenum entered the game averaging an FBS-best 417 yards passing, but he had a season-low 233 and a touchdown. He completed 25 of 36 passes and was sacked a season-high four times.
The Cougars ran more times than they passed for the first time since a 44-38 win over SMU on Oct. 18, 2008. They have attempted 358 passes and have run the ball 221 times.
"We've got a couple of really talented running backs that I really don't mind handing the ball off to at any time," said Keenum who has passed for 2,734 yards and 20 TDs while getting picked off four times. "You've got to take what the defense gives you."
Houston has not lost at home since a 37-35 loss to East Carolina on Sept. 29, 2007.
The Cougars' last matchup against the Golden Eagles (5-3, 3-1) was at Robertson Stadium, beating them 34-20 in the Conference USA championship game Dec. 1, 2006. Houston, which threw for 276 yards and gained 167 on the ground, led the league in both categories that season.
That year, Southern Miss had the conference's top scoring defense. The Golden Eagles lead Conference USA in total defense this season, allowing 313.6 yards per game.
"We understand that Houston is playing really well and they are a heck of a football team," Golden Eagles coach Larry Fedora said. "We will have our work cut out for us.
"When you get to play a nationally ranked team on the road and on TV, everyone should get a little excited. It is a tremendous opportunity. As a football team you do not get those very often and when they do come up you better take advantage of it. This is our second time this season to play a ranked opponent and we feel like from looking at film this is the best team we have played at this point."
Southern Miss, focused on trying to stop Keenum, has an inexperienced quarterback heading into what may very well end up becoming a game in which it has to play catch-up.
Martevious Young's third career start was his most consistent, going 13 of 15 for 127 yards with two TD passes in the Golden Eagles' 43-6 win over Tulane last Saturday. Young has replaced Austin Davis, who tore a ligament in his left foot in a 30-17 loss to Alabama-Birmingham on Oct. 1.
"Our offense is going to have to put up a lot of points, because they (Houston) have a good offense," Young said. "We have to go into this week focused. Everyone must fill their role."
Southern Miss has tried to help Young by providing him with a strong ground game, rushing for 458 yards and three TDs in winning its last two games. The Golden Eagles have rushed for at least 200 yards in consecutive games for the first time this season.
Damion Fletcher leads Southern Miss with 622 yards and seven TDs on the ground.
The Golden Eagles, who lead the all-time series 7-4, have rushed for 308 yards in their last two games against the Cougars.
Posted: 10/27/09 8:40PM ET