Army is taking money as the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl approaches, and Houston will play without four defensive linemen in their two deep set including All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who is skipping to bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. The Cougars also fired their defensive coordinator following the regular season finale causing more distractions for Houston heading into their season finale.
2018 Armed Forces Bowl
Army Black Knights (10-2) vs. Houston Cougars (8-4)
Saturday, December 22nd – Fort Worth, Texas 3:30pm ET (ESPN)
Betting Line: Army -4.5 (60)
Army beat Navy to finish a very successful season with 10 wins. The Black Knights’ triple option attack is expected to run wild against a Houston defense that will not only have a new coordinator preparing for this bowl game, but have to make adjustments for the loss of Oliver and other defensive personnel. Additional concerns for Houston is that their all-everything QB D’Eriq King, who was responsible for 50 touchdowns this season, is out after suffering a season-ending knee injury in November.
So Houston is short handed with an already deficient defense and the Cougars explosive offense is missing their star quarterback. While the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl betting line has risen on Army, the total has dropped from the opener of 64.5.
Army should control the ball, clock and chains in this contest, as the Knights run the ball a nation-high 65.0 times per game for 298.1 yards per game vs. FBS foes, ranking them second in the country in terms of rushing production. Houston allowed 278 rushing yards per game at 5.4 yards per rush over their last six contests, including 401 rushing yards in their season-ending loss to Memphis, 52-31. With Oliver and other defensive personnel missing the bowl game, it’s going to be difficult to not only slow Army’s option attack, but for Houston to have possession of the ball enough to execute their own offense. This game simply plays as a bad matchup for the undermanned Cougars.
Key Stats: Army held opponents to 103 yards per game than their season average and just 257 yards per game over their last eight contests.
2018 Armed Forces Bowl Free Pick – Army -4.5
Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.