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We’ve got a premier Friday night matchup here as the Washington State Cougars travel to take on the Houston Cougars. These teams might have the same nickname, but they also have similar fast-paced offensive philosophies, so we should see a lot of action here. Oddsmakers have Washington State as more than a touchdown road favorites for this pivotal game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Washington State lost their quarterback from last year when Gardner Minshew left for the NFL, but they still have the architect of their unique offense in head coach Mike Leach. Washington State enters this matchup at 2-0 and ranked #20 in the AP poll. That being said their two wins have come against New Mexico State and Northern Colorado, so they’ll be facing a big rise in level of competition here.
Houston is entering a new era of football in 2019 after firing their head coach and also losing star defensive tackle Ed Oliver to the NFL. They made a splashy hire by bringing in Dana Holgorsen, and have high hopes for this season now that their starting quarterback D’Eriq King is back healthy after an injury cut his excellent 2018 campaign short. Houston is only 1-1, although the one loss did come to Oklahoma.
Washington State Has New QB
The Washington State Cougars are yet again entering a new era of football. After losing Luke Falk to the NFL last year, they brought in graduate transfer Gardner Minshew to start in 2018. Since Minshew only had one year of eligibility, they had to start all over again this year. To take the reins, head coach Mike Leach decided to go with redshirt senior Anthony Gordon, who has been toiling in the program for a few years as a backup. It’s been all good so far for Gordon in his first real action, as he has led WSU to a 2-0 record while throwing nine touchdown passes and only one interception. That being said, success has come against pretty weak competition.
Gordon talks about his offensive line.
”The offensive line is always great,” Gordon said after throwing for 464 yards and four touchdowns to help No. 22 Washington State pound FCS school Northern Colorado 59-17 on Saturday.
”There were no sacks,” said Gordon, who completed 31 of 39 passes, with one interception. ”They work hard up front.”
No. 2️⃣0️⃣ and 2️⃣-0️⃣ @WSUCougarFB is set to play under the Friday night lights.
Anthony Gordon and the Cougs will face another air raid attack as they hit the road to face Houston. pic.twitter.com/3Eat0cIF7G
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 11, 2019
So far the Cougars have faced New Mexico State and FCS school Northern Colorado, not exactly top-tier opponents. They’ve put up at least 58 points in each of their first two games, but now are going on the road to take on a much tougher opponent in primetime. Head coach Mike Leake is going to run his patented air-raid offense, and I’m interested to see how it works against another team that loves to play fast like Houston. Wazzu passed the ball at a higher rate than any other team in the nation last year, so the matchup to watch will be how Gordon performs against this Houston secondary that looked shaky in their opener against Oklahoma.
Houston Needs This One
Although they aren’t transitioning to a new starting quarterback like WSU is, the Houston Cougars are also entering a new era of football. Houston got off to a hot start last year, but completely collapsed once quarterback D’Eriq King went down with a torn meniscus.
They fired their head coach after the season and made a big splash to replace him, luring away Dana Holgorsen from West Virginia. King is back healthy now, so hopes were high for this Houston team entering 2019 even though they lost their best player in defensive tackle Ed Oliver to the NFL draft. Houston was up and down in their opener as they lost to Oklahoma. They struggled in the first 30 minutes but finally found a rhythm in the second half and nearly came charging all the way back. Oklahoma is going to be one of the best teams in the nation and Lincoln Riley’s offense is hard for anyone to stop, so you can’t blame them too much.
King will be going up against a WSU defense that was much-improved last year, and he needs to show well. This is a season-defining game for the Cougars, and King needs to find some consistency that has eluded him so far this season. Washington State’s run defense struggled at times last year, so establishing the ground game will be critical for Holgorsen. They didn’t get to run as much as they would’ve liked against Oklahoma because they fell behind early, but they did average 5.7 yards per carry.
- 9-3 ATS in their last 12 Friday games
- 17-8 ATS in their last 25 games in September
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss
Updated on Sep 13 at 9:50am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Sharps are all over Washington State in this one. The bets have been split down the middle this week and yet Wazzou has gone from -6.5 up to -9.5.
Injury / Weather Report
Washington State’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: WR Jamire Calvin
Houston’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: DB Colin Samuel and RB Patrick Carr
Out: DB Jordan Moore
Gametime Weather: Retractable Roof
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I’m rolling with the home ‘dog here. These teams aren’t that far apart, and Houston shouldn’t be a nine point underdog at home. Washington State is 2-0, but the best team they’ve played is New Mexico State, so I don’t think they’ll be prepared for this one. Houston has already been sharpened by a game against Oklahoma, so it’ll be WSU who looks rusty here. Washington State is playing an inexperienced quarterback on the road in primetime, and I don’t think it’ll go too well.
Prediction: Houston +9
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the over a lot in this one. Both of these teams like to play with a lot of pace, and Leach likes to throw the ball more than any other coach in the nation. WSU has put up at least 58 points in each of their first two games, and both sides are capable of putting up points in a hurry. King should be a lot better with two full games under his belt post-injury, so I’m expecting a lot of action here.