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October 19, 2017

There is one pick tonight.

Take Memphis +3 spread (buy the half point) against Houston for 3% of the bankroll.

There was always the question of how much the Houston Cougars would regress this season with the loss of both Tom Herman and Greg Ward Jr and it culminated on Saturday as they not only lost, but were blown out by a mediocre Tulsa team as near two touchdown favorites. The Cougars are not the same team that we have seen in year's past and they have struggled mightily on both the offensive and defensive side of the football. Now on a short week, facing one of the most potent offenses they have seen this season, we expect their struggles to continue.

The Memphis Tigers are a team that is firing on all cylinders on offense at the moment. QB Riley Ferguson is playing near perfect football and has tossed 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last 2 contests. Memphis is as dangerous on offense as they come as not only do they have one of the best receivers in the country in Anthony Miller, who dominates the passing game and cannot be left one-on-one, but they also have a trio of running backs in the backfield that can both run between the tackles and also catch the ball out of the backfield which puts an extreme amount of pressure on opposing defenses and can literally keep them guessing all game long. Houston has struggled in defending the run, as evidenced by their recent matchup with Tulsa. They have also struggled in the secondary, allowing near 300 yards through the air to opposing quarterbacks. Ferguson should be able to shred this leaky secondary and should be able to march up and down the field seemingly at will tonight.

We saw what happened when Houston played another high-octane offense on their home field earlier this season when they hosted the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Texas Tech offense is built extremely similar to that of the one that the Tigers employ and the Cougars had an extremely difficult time slowing them down. If there was one area of concern about the Tigers, it's their questionable play on defense. They are giving up over 30 points per contest to opposing offenses, however, those numbers have been somewhat skewed given their ability to gain big leads in contests as their offenses is averaging over 40 points per contest. It's natural for defenses to play more of a prevent style when nursing a lead, so we don't believe their defense is as poor as their statistics make them appear to be.

As loose as the Tigers' defense has played, they have been opportunistic when needed, creating 17 total turnovers (+7 margin) through 6 contests. Meanwhile the Houston offense has been extremely careless with the football and comes into this contest with a -1-turnover margin and have coughed up the football 5 times in the last 2 contests. Giving the high-powered Memphis offense extra possessions is certainly not something opponents can do, and if the Tigers manage to win the turnover battle tonight, it will surely spell disaster for the Cougars.

Tigers managed to snap a 6-game losing streak in their series with Houston with a victory last season and we believe this year's team is that much better. Memphis already holds victories over two top 25 teams this season and now face a deflated Houston team that has seemingly fallen from grace. With a victory tonight, the Tigers can secure their 4th consecutive bowl game, which would be a program record and put them in the driver's seat enroute to the conference title. This is also their first week being ranked in the top 25 and we expect that the players and coaching staff don't want an early exit from the rankings. Given how they have been playing recently, they seemed to extremely focused and locked in at the moment. Houston will have the home field advantage in this contest, which is likely the only reason they are favored, however, our belief is that if this game were being played on neutral ground, that Memphis is simply a class ahead in this matchup so we will gladly take the free points in this contest. While Houston is likely to play better than they did in their matchup against Tulsa, their offense won't be able to keep up with Ferguson and Miller for the full 4 quarters. We feel that the wrong team is favored here and Memphis should win this one outright.

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