The Cougars’ season opener against Tulane could only be described as volatile. Quarterback Clayton Tune opened the game with a 64-yard pick-six. Two series later, Tune was sacked on the Houston 14-yard line for what turned into a Tulane scoop and score. Late in the first quarter, Tune completed a pass to the electric Marquez Stevenson for another fumble, which resulted in points for the Green Wave.
From a live betting standpoint, it was a perfect moment to come in and back a rusty Cougars team on their first game. The talent at the skill positions was a known factor, while the defense was a collection of skilled transfers. Houston roared back in a display of explosiveness on offense and Havoc on defense to win the game, 49-31.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) October 9, 2020
From a one-game sample set, Houston is 70th in Havoc allowed but ninth in defensive Havoc. The Tune-to-Stevenson connection is seventh in Passing Success Rate, while the defense posted a Finishing Drives rank of 16th. Houston should continue to be highly volatile for investors.
Narcisse to Franklin for 32 yards, and @UTSAFTBL is in business!
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) October 10, 2020
The Cougars didn’t have a flaw in the advanced statistics before UTSA. Now, the BYU defense sits outside the top 25 in defending explosiveness. This is still a Havoc-minded group, ranking third in Sack Rate and first in Rushing Success Rate. The offense still performs at one of the highest levels in FBS, as quarterback Zach Wilson has thrived on downfield passing.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Has the lack of fans at BYU games been a factor in offensive success for the Cougars from Provo? Our Action Network Pace Report continues to see BYU as one of the most efficient, yet slowest offenses in the nation. Sitake’s offense averages 29.5 seconds per play for a rank of 69th in FBS play.
To this point, no one has been able to stop the BYU ground attack that owns a rank of seventh in Rushing Success Rate and fourth in Stuff Rate. As great as Wilson has been for BYU, this is still a run-first offense averaging 57% run ratio in 169 offensive plays in 11 and 12 personnel. The handicap starts with the Houston front seven stopping the rush. Houston stuffed 20 of Tulane’s 39 rushing attempts for a rate of 51.3%, well above the national average of 30%.
The next handicap is whether or not the BYU defense can handle Tune and his targets. Houston hit 10 different receivers against Tulane, with seven different players collecting a pass over 15 yards. More importantly, the Houston offensive line marginalized a talented Tulane front seven. The Green Wave were limited to just two pressures and four sacks, almost all of which came in the first half.
Pick: Houston +5.5 (down to +4)