Prediction Time (Armed Forces Bowl): Houston

Army is up to a 6-point favorite against Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl Saturday.

When asked about playing the role of favorite on his radio show Friday night, Jeff Monken said, ‘If people think we are a 5.5-point favorite over a talented team like Houston, they are delusional. This is a great football team, a very talented team, a top 25 team earlier in the year. They had some injuries that caused them to have not as much success later in the year as they likely would had. I think they are a great football team.

“I promise you the guys on our team understand who we are. We are probably a favorite because we won a few games here down the stretch but if you look at our games a lot of them have been close where we just have to slug it out, hang on and try to win. That’s exactly what it’s going to take for us tomorrow for us to do that. We don’t look at the lines. That doesn’t make any difference for us when we go play a game.

“If somebody said, ‘What’s the point spread tomorrow,’ I wouldn’t have the first idea. I know who they have on the other side and it’s going to take our best effort to beat them.”

Army (10-2), ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll and 25th in the Coaches poll, is riding an eight-game winning streak entering its third straight bowl game. The Black Knights have not lost a game in three months (28-21 overtime loss at Oklahoma, Sept. 22). A win would be Army’s school-record 11th

Houston (8-4) was ranked as high as 17th before dropping three of its last four games. True freshman quarterback Clayton Tune will make his second career start in place of D’Eriq King. Houston will be without all-American defensive lineman Ed Oliver and cornerback Isaiah Johnson, who both elected not to protect their NFL draft stock.

Army enters with the nation’s No. 2 rushing attack at 296.3 yards per game. While, Houston ranks 98th in stopping the run (197.1 yards). The Cougars have allowed 219 points in their four losses.

Houston averages 46.4 points per game but will the Cougars be that prolific without King and against an Army defense, which has allowed three touchdowns over its last three games?

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 31, Houston 17. Originally thought this could be a tight game but after losing count of how many times Army coach Jeff Monken complimented Houston as a talented team during his Friday press conference, get the feeling that this is a confident Army team focused on winning its 11th game and securing its first final Top 25 ranking since 1996. Army’s recipe for victory is no secret – possess the football, keep its defense fresh and create a turnover or two.

Predictions from around the college football universe
Ben Kercheval (CBS Sports): Army -3.5. Kercheval writes on CBS Sports, “The Black Knights run the triple option and do it well. They lead college football with 766 rushing attempts (nearly 64 rushes per game), and while time of possession isn’t normally a pertinent stat, they’re also No. 1 in that category as well at 38:50 per game — nearly four minutes more than the next team. Playing Army is a grind and even with time to prepare, can Houston’s defense stop this immovable object?”
Nicholas Ian Allen (Athlon Sports): Houston 28, Army 27.
Nick Bromberg (Yahoo Sports): Army 28, Houston 27
Sam Cooper (Yahoo Sports): Army 35, Houston 30
Pat Forde (Yahoo Sports): Army 34, Houston 28
Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Army 38, Houston 31

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