USF vs Houston Odds, Picks, Prediction: Saturday’s AAC Betting Guide

USF vs Houston Odds, Picks, Prediction: Saturday’s AAC Betting Guide article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: USF’s Michel Dukes.

USF vs Houston Odds

Saturday, Oct. 29
12 p.m. ET
USF Odds
-112o / -108u
Houston Odds
-112o / -108u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The back half of the AAC season is in full swing. South Florida heads to Houston on Saturday to take on a Cougars squad looking to turn around their season.

USF is mired in a serious funk. It sits at 1-6, with its only win coming in Week 2 over FCS Howard. Quarterback Gerry Bohanon was lost for the season in the Bulls' last game, and rumors have been swirling about head coach Jeff Scott’s future.

The Cougars will be looking to pounce. They took full advantage of mismatches in last week’s blowout win over Navy and will look to keep the good times rolling on their home turf.

The line is big; Houston is favored by 17.5. Should you lay the points in this conference matchup, or does USF have what it takes to keep it close?

South Florida Bulls

This season has been a year to forget for the Bulls — and they have only just reached their first game after the bye week.

This is Scott’s third year at the helm, and there has been very little progress with the program. He's notched only one win over an FBS opponent — against three-win Temple last year.

The Bulls rank 98th in SP+ overall this season, with a drastic split on each side of the ball. They're a respectable 62nd on offense and a catastrophic 123rd on defense.

The offensive resume was built almost entirely on the capable arm and legs of Bohanon, the transfer quarterback from Baylor. Unfortunately, he's now lost for the season, and backup Katravis Marsh will take over.

Bohanon’s injury is particularly devastating for the Bulls because not only is he the entire South Florida offense — Bohanon led the team in rushing from the quarterback position — but also he was on fire in October.

Once the calendar turned to spooky season, Bohanon went to work putting a fright into defenses. In two-and-a-half games in October, he completed 63% of his passes for 501 yards, six touchdowns and no picks. He also chipped in 250 yards on the ground and two scores on 7.8 yards per carry in those games.

Bohanon was playing by far the best ball of his career, but because it was opposite one of the worst defenses in the sport, his team lost all three of those contests. Now he's out for the season — a cruel twist.

Bohanon was single-handedly breathing competence into the South Florida offense. Things don't look promising going forward, as his replacement has struggled mightily in his three years of college football.

Marsh has seen limited action in all three seasons, including in the last game against Tulane when Bohanon left. He has attempted 97 passes and has a 46% completion percentage for 521 yards. He has tossed three big-time throws and 11 turnover-worthy plays, according to PFF charting.

When he's pressured, it ends in a sack 29% of the time. Ideally, the rate should be about half of that.

Marsh also doesn't open up the defense as a rusher the way Bohanon could. He has carried the ball just seven times for 25 yards in his career. I expect a big day for the top-ranked Houston pass rush and its defense which ranks 20th in creating Havoc.

This season has been a nightmare for the USF defense. It has surrendered an average of 42 points per game to FBS opponents.

The Bulls do have a strength in limiting explosive plays, ranking 22nd in the nation in that category. This is a bad matchup because Houston sits 97th in passing explosiveness. The Cougs don't attack defenses with the big play, preferring to dink-and-dunk the ball down the field.

In terms of Passing Success Rate, Houston’s offense ranks 42nd in FBS, and South Florida’s pass defense is 110th.

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Houston Cougars

The Cougars entered this season as one of the favorites to win the AAC and potentially snag the designated New Year’s Six bowl bid reserved for a Group of Five team.

Things did not play out that way in the first half of the season — they dropped games to Texas Tech, Kansas and Tulane, and needed second-half comebacks to score their three wins over UTSA, Rice and Memphis.

The hope was their “fall behind, then rally late” formula was also a microcosm for the season, and the bye week reset would begin their hot streak. Well, so far, so good.

The Cougars stormed out of their bye, trouncing Navy, 38-20, in Annapolis. They were a particularly poor matchup for the Midshipmen, as their passing-oriented offense could avoid Navy’s tough run defense and exploit its weak secondary.

That's exactly what happened when quarterback Clayton Tune tossed five touchdowns in the comfortable win.

The Cougars look to extend the second-half success on Saturday and will be able to move the ball against a porous Bulls defense. Much like Bohanon, Tune is the straw that stirs the drink for the 28th-ranked Houston offense, per SP+.

Tune is second on the team with 256 rushing yards and three scores on the ground to go along with his prolific passing that includes 1,828 yards, 17 touchdowns and four picks.

Wide receiver Sam Brown has emerged in the middle of the season, giving Tune another weapon alongside star slot receiver Tank Dell. Brown has 183 yards and two scores in only three games, complementing Dell’s 51 catches for 627 yards and eight scores.

The Tune-to-Dell combination is one of the most reliable connections in the sport right now, and USF's poor defense will have little hope of slowing them down.

Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks, but his outfit has been on the disappointing side so far in 2022. UH ranks 82nd overall in defensive SP+ despite ranking No. 1 overall in PFF pass-rush grading with a ferocious front four.

But the Cougs have been a sturdy “bend-don’t-break” defense, ranking 102nd in Parker Fleming’s ECKEL ratio and 48th in Points Per ECKEL.

They may allow teams to have scoring opportunities, but they’re above average at standing them up or forcing a field goal try.

Their pass rush and red-zone stops, combined with Marsh's generosity with the ball, all point to a big day for the Houston defense.

USF vs Houston Matchup Analysis

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

USF Offense vs Houston Defense
Rush Success55102
Line Yards4529
Pass Success10567
Pass Blocking**251
Finishing Drives4337
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Houston Offense vs USF Defense
Rush Success6798
Line Yards4393
Pass Success42110
Pass Blocking**11118
Finishing Drives1688
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling78121
PFF Coverage9954
SP+ Special Teams4539
Seconds per Play27.6 (92)25.1 (36)
Rush Rate56.5% (47)50.0% (89)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

USF vs Houston Betting Pick

I anticipate a long day for the Bulls. Houston’s offense is clicking right now, and Marsh has not shown anything near the level of Bohanon’s production. 

Marsh will be in for a long day with this Cougs pass rush hounding him. I like Houston to cover the big number, but I’ll also take South Florida's team total under 20.5 at DraftKings and would play it to 20.

Pick: USF Team Total Under 20.5 (Play to 20.5)

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