Armed Forces Bowl Predictions: Houston Cougars vs. Air Force Falcons

Jeff SmithCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 | 12:00 PM EST, Fort Worth, TX, on ESPN

Armed Forces Bowl

Air Force Falcons  (7-5) vs Houston Cougars  (10-3)

Opening Line:  Houston -5  (current Houston -4.5 )

Game Preview:
These two teams met twice last year including in this game, a 34-28 victory for Houston. Air Force won the regular season match up and these teams with contrasting styles should be pretty familiar with each other going into this one.

The outcome may be in doubt but what won’t be is how these teams are going to attack each other. Houston brings the nation top aerial attack while the Falcons have the country’s third best ground game. Whichever defense has anything close to an answer will provide a chance for the offense to score enough points to win.

Air Force Preview:
Air Force is all about the ground game. They are amazing with their schemes and achieve their production with a commitment and belief in their system.  Unlike other top running teams their QB is not much of a threat.  They do their damage by committee, with no back over 800 yards in the season.

On the other side of the ball Air Force possesses the stingiest pass defense in the nation while being mediocre against the run. Houston is going to put that top-ranked pass D to the test and we should know after a couple of drives if it is legit or just not being tested.

Houston Preview:
Houston is very good but perhaps not as good as everyone thought after winning against Oklahoma State. The passing offense, led by Case Keenum, is fantastic but a look behind the numbers shows that a lot of that yardage was accumulated against less than stellar competition.

Plus, if they were really that good they wouldn’t have been smoked by UTEP when it seemed everything was going their way.

That loss was a telling one as the Miners racked up more than 300 yards on the ground. Air Force will definitely be able to move the ball so the question is whether Keenum can continue to come up with an answer. The odds are pretty good.

Game Prediction:
Houston is looking to finish a very strong season. They already have 10 victories but an 11th would put them in select company. The passing offense will challenge the strength of the Falcons defense and have success. I think the overall advantage in athleticism favors Houston, which should enable them to slow the ground game enough to out score Air Force.

Score Prediction:

Houston Cougars  – 35

Air Force Falcons  – 28

With the line moving down you may want to wait until just before kickoff to make your play. I think Houston is solid at anything under -7 but if you can get it in the -3 range you may want to bet big.

Houston Cougars Football Betting Trends:
  • Houston is 6-3 ATS in its last nine games
  • Houston is 11-3 SU in its last 14 games
  • The total has gone OVER in five of Houston’s last six games
Air Force Falcons Football Betting Trends:
  • Air Force is 4-1 ATS in its last five games
  • Air Force is 4-2 SU in its last six games
  • The total has gone OVER in four of Air Force’s last five games