SMU vs. Houston College Football Week 9 Picks and Predictions

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Clayton Tune #3 of the Houston Cougars. Tim Warner/Getty Images/AFP

Houston hosts this AAC battle, which is good news for the Cougars. That is why they are currently favored by 1 point. The NCAAF odds have spoken, but can Houston deliver? Which team will win this one?

Without further ado, let’s take a look into how you should be wagering over at the top-rated sportsbooks. 

SMU Mustangs vs. Houston Cougars

Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 07:00 PM EDT at TDECU Stadium

College football’s regular season is reaching the home stretch, and there is still plenty to play for. While many are looking at the College Football Playoff race, there are teams on the outside of the bubble that are still playing terrific football.

One example of this is SMU. The Mustangs are 7-0 on the year as they try to complete an undefeated regular season. Their strength of schedule is behind other teams outside of the Power 5, but they still have a great team and a potent offense.

An undefeated SMU team still would miss the College Football Playoff, but they still have plenty to play for. This week, they’ll face off against a 6-1 Houston Cougars team. Houston lacks the same offensive firepower, but the defense has been significantly better this season.

Here are keys for each team and a prediction.

Keys for SMU to Win

SMU has one of the best quarterbacks outside of the Power 5. Tanner Mordecai was buried on the depth chart at Oklahoma, but he is now shining with the Mustangs. It is similar to how SMU dominated with Shane Buechele after he transferred from Texas. Mordecai is why the offense is so potent, and he needs to keep dealing. He has 31 total touchdowns in 7 games, and the passing attack has been efficient. However, he has an even turnover margin.

If they can keep the efficiency without losing the ball, they will be in a good position to succeed. This will likely turn into a track meet, but that benefits the Mustangs. If their offense fails, they won’t be able to get into a rhythm on either side of the ball. Penalties haven’t been a problem this year for the Mustangs.

They get a few, but nothing compared to many teams. However, that might change in a hostile environment. They’ll need to keep the penalty yards low if they want to win this game outright.

Now, let’s take a look at the Houston Cougars. What will they try to do in this game?

Keys for Houston to Win

Houston loves to run football, and it is easy to see why. It makes the passing game easier to execute, and it helps move the chains. If they can win in the trenches early, they will have the entire playbook at their disposal. Houston’s defense is solid, but it mostly wins with a pass rush. They average four sacks per game, and they will need similar production against the Mustangs. Mordecai will be in the pocket plenty, so making him uncomfortable is a must.

If they can do that, they should double down with turnovers. Houston has been solid so far in this department, but this will be one of their toughest tests all season. If they can’t force pressure and turnovers, they won’t win this game.

Houston should feel confident, but that doesn’t mean much. In conference games like these, anything can happen. With SMU’s offense, this game will never be out of reach. So, what is the best college football pick?

The Prediction

Houston has a great defense, but Mordecai is used to facing tough defenses. Even though he didn’t see many reps in the Big 12, he has more experience than many AAC quarterbacks.

The line is essentially showing that this will go either way. Houston has a chance to win, but SMU remains the better team. In today’s world, I don’t expect the better defense to win this game. This will come down to whether or not Houston’s offense can keep up, and I’m not sure they can.

The pressure and turnovers are in favor of the Cougars, but Mordecai is good enough to be the difference-maker. He will have a spectacular performance, and that will likely lead to a win. With this kind of value, I’m taking the SMU moneyline. There is no reason to take a one-point spread for an underdog, so risk a little more with an outright Mustangs win.

NCAAF Pick: SMU (+100) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.