The betting market seems to be overly-impressed with Temple now that the Owls have won and covered three consecutive road games (dating back to last season) for the first time since 2011. However, Temple is a below-average team from the line of scrimmage and should be getting double-digits in this game based upon the fundamental analysis alone.
Temple is averaging 38.2 points per game at 4.0 yards per rush play, 6.8 yards per pass play and 5.4 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 4.5 yards per rush attempt, 7.9 yards per pass attempt and 6.1 yards per play to a mediocre offensive squad. The Owls’ anemic attack is even worse away from home where they are averaging just 2.7 yards per rush play, 6.5 yards per pass play and 4.6 yards per play. Overall, Temple is 0.5 yards per rush play, 1.1 yards per pass play and 0.7 yards per play worse than average offensively, which gives the Cougars a significant advantage on the defensive side of the ball.
Indeed, Houston takes the field with a very good defense that is allowing just 19.2 points per game this season at 3.5 yards per rush attempt, 5.5 yards per pass attempt and 4.3 yards per play against teams that would combine to average 5.2 yards per play against a mediocre defense. Houston is also limiting opponents to a mere 14.5 points per game at home at 5.0 yards per play.
Overall, the Cougars are 0.9 yards per play better than average defensively, which gives them a huge 1.6 yards per play advantage defensively over Temple’s offense. And, Temple will not have success moving the chains through the air as the Cougars’ secondary is 1.4 yards per play better than average in 2014 (Temple is 1.1 yards per pass play worse than average).
The only question mark surrounding Houston is the quarterback position as head coach Tony Levine recently decided to bench starting quarterback John O’Korn, who was averaging a woeful 4.7 yards per pass play against teams that would combine to allow 7.3 yards per pass play to a mediocre quarterback. O’Korn has been replaced by Greg Ward, Jr., who provides a running component to the Cougars’ offense. Ward has been 1.0 yards per pass play worse than average this season (5.0 yards per pass play to teams that would combine to allow 6.0 yards per pass play), but that is still significantly better than O’Korn’s production through the first five games of the 2014 campaign.
Houston was 0.4 yards per play worse than average offensively, with O’Korn behind center, but the Cougars’ attack is at least 0.4 yards per play better now that Ward has assumed the starting quarterback position. Meanwhile, Temple’s defense is 0.4 yards per play worse than average this season (5.4 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.0 yards per play), which gives the Cougars’ a solid 0.4 yards per play advantage offensively (and that projection is being conservative as I believe Ward is more of an upgrade than most people think).
Houston is 31-16 ATS at home off one or more consecutive wins, 17-6 ATS in its last 23 games after covering the point spread, 11-4 ATS in its last fifteen games in October and 15-6 ATS in its last 21 games overall. The Cougars also apply to a very good 34-6-1 ATS home momentum situation of mine that is predicated upon their road win over Memphis as 7.5-point underdogs.
Finally, Temple’s early-season success epitomizes how positive variance can skew the betting market’s perception of a particular team. Specifically, Temple is an incredible +9 in turnover margin through the first five games this season! Lay the points with Houston and invest with confidence.
Betting Preview & Pick: Houston (-7) (-125)
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