Houston vs. Navy Odds, Picks: Does Midshipmen’s ATS Streak End Here?

Houston vs. Navy Odds, Picks: Does Midshipmen’s ATS Streak End Here? article feature image

Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Clayton Tune (Houston)

  • The Houston Cougars will take on the Navy Midshipmen in a Week 8 AAC battle from Annapolis, MD.
  • The Cougars have been a disappointment this season, with already three losses on their record.
  • Is it time they impress during this early afternoon affair? Dan Keegan breaks it all down.

Houston vs. Navy Odds

Saturday, Oct. 22
12 p.m. ET
Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
Navy Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Houston Cougars head to Annapolis after their bye week hoping to begin a second-half turnaround of their disappointing 2022 campaign.

Navy has really struggled to start the season, but its rush defense is strong and the offense has been playing better in recent weeks. The Midshipmen will look to keep that momentum going through conference play.

Houston Cougars

The Cougars had to stop and lick their wounds after a nightmare first half of the season.

Houston was regarded as a preseason conference championship contender and stars like quarterback Clayton Tune, wide receiver Tank Dell and defensive end Derrick Parish were media darlings.

But their bad habit of starting every game slowly came back to haunt them, as they needed late rallies to earn their three wins (UTSA, Rice, Memphis) and fell short in other comeback bids (Texas Tech, Tulane).

The Cougs are hoping that the slow start trend is also a microcosm of their season, and that they will rally after the bye week to be a conference contender — as predicted.

If that is the case, it will be thanks to the heroics of Tune and Dell. The pair has been practically the entirety of the Cougars' attack, with Tune finding his favorite target to spur their big comebacks.

Dell, who operates from the slot a majority of the time, has 43 catches for 543 yards on the season; no other Cougar has more than 17 grabs. Dell has been on the business end of six of Tune’s 12 touchdown passes.

There is some potential for more balance in the attack, as WVU transfer wide receiver Sam Brown saw action for the first time in the last two games. He caught nine balls for 116 yards in the most recent game (the Memphis comeback win).

The running game is average — leading rusher Brandon Campbell is a shade under 60 yards per game with 4.2 yards per carry.

Tune has thrown for 1,558 yards on the season, with 12 scores and four picks. However, he has made eight Turnover Worthy Plays, according to PFF charting.

He does add an extra dimension with his mobility, as he has picked up 177 yards on scrambles this year and has moved the chains 18 times with his legs.

The defense has been disappointing. This was supposed to be one of the better units in the Group of Five. Instead, the Cougars rank a sluggish 84th in defensive SP+.

One area that was expected to be great — and has lived up to expectations — is the pass rush. Parish was lost for the season in Week 4, but the Cougars still rank second overall in PFF’s Pass Rush grading.

Unfortunately, this advantage is minimized against a service academy flexbone attack.

Coordinator Doug Belk does seem to have found some success against Navy, though. In his first year at the helm in Houston, the Cougars allowed 56 points to the Midshipmen. That number was cut to 21 in 2020 and 20 in 2021.

Navy Midshipmen

Like its opponent on Saturday, Navy got off to the season on a bad foot, looking listless in losses to FCS Delaware and Memphis in the first two weeks. It has been more competent over recent weeks, including a blowout of Tulsa and an overtime win over ECU.

You know the drill with a service academy offense at this point, although it should be noted that the Midshipmen allow quarterback Tai Lavatai to pass more frequently than their academy brethren.

Lavatai has attempted 77 passes on the season — that’s at least 20 more attempts than the other academies each. Lavatai has two games where he has put the ball in the air 20 times, while Army has as many games with zero passing attempts as Navy has 20,

Fullback Daba Fofana leads the team in rushing yards, thanks to his monster effort (159 yards and three touchdowns) against Tulsa, and slotback Maquel Haywood is the big-play threat, with 298 yards at 6.1 per tote.

The defense has about as wide of a split as can be. This is one of the best rushing defenses in the country and one of the worst pass defenses. The Midshipmen are 16th in EPA against the rush and 131st in EPA defending the air attack.

This split was exploited last time out by SMU, as the Mustangs built a three-touchdown lead through the air by eschewing the run (60 of their 105 ground yards came on one long run by quarterback Tanner Mordecai).

Houston vs. Navy Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Houston and Navy match up statistically:

Houston Offense vs. Navy Defense
Rush Success6919
Line Yards433
Pass Success6798
Pass Blocking**1862
Finishing Drives2130
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Navy Offense vs. Houston Defense
Rush Success78104
Line Yards11429
Pass Success13166
Pass Blocking**1272
Finishing Drives8853
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling120112
PFF Coverage69116
SP+ Special Teams3978
Seconds per Play24.9 (32)27.7 (97)
Rush Rate49.5% (87)80.9% (3)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Houston vs. Navy Betting Pick

Navy has covered four games in a row, thanks to some inflated spreads due to its ghastly start. The market seems to have adjusted to its actual level of competency.

Navy’s strong rush defense is exploitable thanks to its porous secondary. Houston’s offense has been significantly better when behind, shifting away from the inefficient run game to a “let Clayton Tune cook” approach.

A game plan similar to SMU’s will let the Cougars find offensive success.

Belk’s Houston defense isn’t the ferocious unit it was projected to be entering the season, but the Cougars are coming off of a bye and Belk has had some success minimizing the Navy attack in the past two seasons.

If the Cougars can force some passing downs, Navy won’t hesitate to have Lavatai drop back, where one of the sport’s best pass rushes will be waiting to meet him.

I think Navy has the goods to steal a few more games from conference foes, despite looking like a candidate for the worst team in FBS in the first two weeks. The market has realized that too, and Houston has the players to exploit this matchup.

I’ll lay the points at a field goal or less.

Pick: Houston -2.5 (Play to -3)

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.