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2009 Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs Air Force Preview/Pick

College Football Bowl Season – Houston vs. Air Force in Armed Forces Bowl

Thursday, December 31: 12:00 p.m.
BetUS.com Betting Odds: Houston -4 ½, Total Points 62

One of college football’s best running offenses will go against the best passing offense in what promises to be a highly entertaining Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on New Year’s Eve.


Houston, the favorite in the odds, enters the game as the top ranked passing offense in college football, thanks to quarterback Case Keenum. The junior from Abilene, TX, has been a statistical anomaly this year, as he leads all of football in passing attempts, completions, touchdown passes and yardage on the season. All of it leads to the top passing offense in college football, the top total offense, and the second highest scoring offense. Want an amazing stat to throw around at your Christmas party this holiday season? Keenum had over 100 more completions than anyone else in college football this year (Tyler Sheehan of Bowling Green finished with 340 compared to Keenum’s 468).

Here are some NCAA football betting trends which may impact this game:

Houston: 11-3 SU in their last 14 games
Houston: 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games
Houston: The total has gone OVER in 5 of their last 6 games

Air Force: 4-2 SU in their last 6 games
Air Force: 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
Air Force: The total has gone OVER in 4 of their last 5 games

However, about as well as Houston throws the ball, Air Force runs it equally as efficiently. On the year, the Falcons are ranked third in college football, with 273 yards on the ground per game. Air Force is led by two 700 yard rushers, junior Jared Tew and sophomore Asher Clark. While the Falcons don’t throw the ball a lot, Tim Jefferson has been competent, throwing for five touchdowns on the year. However, his health has been a concern all season, as he’s missed several games with injury.

Defensively, what this game will obviously come down to is who can stop the other team’s strength. Houston has a young defensive front that lacks depth, and has been injury prone, which is a big reason why they ranked 112th in run defense in college football.

But while you’d assume that Air Force has a big edge because of their No. 1 ranked pass defense in NCAA football, don’t be so sure. Remember, a lot of that success comes from their own offensive running game, which keeps the opposition off the field. In Air Force’s regular season finale, they gave up 377 yards in the air to BYU, who easily beat them 38-21.

So who has the edge? I’d give it to Houston. The fact is that Houston’s offense can score so quickly, and so efficiently, that sometimes it leaves the opponent with no choice but to play keep up. And because Air Force’s offense is so predicated on the run game, they are not built to make up big deficits.

Because of it, I’m taking the Houston Cougars, in this week’s college football betting odds.

OUR Free Armed Forces Bowl Pick: Houston -4 ½

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