SMU Mustangs vs Houston Cougars Betting Preview: Sack-Happy Cougars to End Former SWC Rival’s Perfect Season

Eddie Griffin

Houston is off to the Big 12 to join former Southwest Conference members Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas Tech in the near future. But in the meantime, they have their eyes on an AAC title, and one of their rivals for it is another former SWC member in undefeated SMU. The Cougars and Mustangs are two of several SWC alums having college football success this season, along with Baylor (6-1), Oklahoma (8-0), Oklahoma State (6-1), and Texas A&M (6-2).

While Cincinnati is the class of the conference and a potential College Football Playoff team, Houston and SMU are on the rise and looking to stop the Bearcats short of that success. The winner of tomorrow’s showdown in H-Town will have the inside track to a berth in the AAC title tilt. Will the Cougars end SMU’s perfect season, or will Sonny Dykes add another win to his resume for consideration for the Texas Tech job?

SMU Mustangs (7-0, 3-0 American) vs Houston Cougars (6-1, 4-0 American), ESPN2, 7:00 p.m. ET

SMU vs Houston College Football Odds


  • SMU -110
  • Houston -110


  • OVER 61.5 (-114)
  • UNDER 61.5 (-106)


  • SMU +0.5 (-110)
  • Houston -0.5 (-110)

SMU Mustangs vs Houston Cougars college football odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Friday, October 29, 2021 at 5:35 p.m. ET.

SMU vs Houston Best Bets

Over 61.5

Houston ML

Should we expect anything less than fireworks in Houston? This matchup features two teams who are in the top 20 in the FBS in scoring. The Mustangs come in sixth at 42.7 points per game, while the Cougars are 20th at 36.3 points per game.

The Mustangs are the more prolific team in terms of moving the ball. They average 525.4 yards per game to Houston’s 363.7 yards per game. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai has 29 touchdown passes this season, tied for first in major college football with Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe. The aerial attack is a big reason for SMU’s success, but they are averaging over 190 yards per game.

Houston may not be putting up a lot of yards, but the Cougars have hit the 40-point mark four times in their last six games. Since throwing four interceptions in the season opener against Texas Tech, quarterback Clayton Tune has thrown only two picks in the last six games. Tune hasn’t hit the 300-yard mark in 2021, but his career high of 407 yards came against SMU in 2019. SMU is 100th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game and is giving up 8.2 yards per attempt, which is one of the worst totals in the country as well.

Those aren’t pretty numbers, but they haven’t been costly for the Mustangs due to their prolific production offensively. But it does present a good opportunity for Dana Holgorsen to remind the country of his reputation as one of the top offensive minds in college football.

Can Houston’s Destructive Defense Slow SMU?

Unstoppable force vs immovable object will go a long way in determining the outcome of this contest. Mordecai has been able to sling it all season with little stress as he has been sacked only twice.

Few teams get after the quarterback as well as Houston’s defense does, as the Cougars are one of the nation’s leaders in sacks. What’s even more notable is that they don’t have just one or two sources wreaking havoc. Last time out, they sacked East Carolina’s Houston Ahlers four times.

That isn’t the only thing that Houston’s defense does well. The Cougars are fourth in yards allowed per game (277.4), 13th in points allowed per game (17.3), and also rank in the top 20 in the FBS in turnovers forced (14). That defense came up big against the Pirates, forcing and recovering a fumble in overtime to seal a 31-24 win.

The loss to the Red Raiders is Houston’s only blemish thus far this season. In that loss, they led 21-7 at halftime but gave up 31 unanswered points in the second half. Since then, the Cougars have given up no more than the 24 points they surrendered to ECU last week. They also haven’t faced an offense as good as the one they will face tomorrow.

As good as SMU’s offense is, Houston’s defense will tip the scales in this matchup. The scoreboard may not reflect the impact in that area, as I expect plenty of points still. But that group will be a big reason why SMU’s perfect season meets its end tomorrow night.

SMU vs Houston College Football Score Prediction

Houston 41, SMU 36

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