West Virginia vs. Houston and SMU vs. East Carolina Week 7 college football predictions

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Week 7 Thursday games feature West Virginia vs. Houston and SMU vs. East Carolina

Weeknight games are all the rage in college football right now, but we’re used to seeing it on Thursday. This week, we’ve got the Big 12 and the AAC to think about, as West Virginia visits Houston and SMU takes on East Carolina.

 

Both games feature road favorites, which is always interesting on a short week, but both of those teams were on bye weeks with some extra rest and prep. That basically makes the travel a non-factor. With that in mind, let’s see what these matchups might have in store.

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West Virginia Mountaineers (-2.5, 49.5) at Houston Cougars

The Mountaineers are really exceeding expectations this season. There was a strong sense coming into the year that Neal Brown was on one of the hottest seats in the country, but the West Virginia head coach has captained WVU to a 4-1 record thus far. The only loss came against Penn State, who is a borderline top-five team per the polls.

The 17-6 win in the Backyard Brawl has lost a little bit of luster because of how bad the Panthers have played, but back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and TCU have been thoroughly impressive, especially the win over TCU on the road. With a bye week in between, the Mountaineers are back in the Lone Star State here.

Houston has not been impressive. At all. The Cougars are 0-2 in Big 12 action, losing badly to Texas Tech and TCU, so the common opponents angle does not look good for Dana Holgorsen’s squad. In fact, Houston has yet to beat a Power Five team this season, with a win over UTSA in a game that could’ve gone either way and a win over Sam Houston.

The Mountaineers are winning with defense, as they are actually about 30 spots below Houston in offensive yards per play. WVU is a top-30 defense by YPP and Houston ranks 100th, so it will be interesting to see which side of the ball rules Thursday’s game.

I’m not sure either team is all that good, but WVU’s defense should stifle a Houston offense that has put up numbers against Rice and Sam Houston State, but they’ve been beaten 85-41 in two Big 12 games after joining the conference this offseason.

Many books are down to -2.5 here and that’s where I think this game has a good buy point.

Pick: West Virginia -2.5

Other Thursday Game

SMU (-12.5, 49.5) at East Carolina: The other game on Thursday’s card is from Houston’s former conference, the AAC. SMU probably deserves a better fate this season. The offense is averaging over six yards per play and the defense actually ranks in the top 20 in yards per play allowed with just 4.65.

However, the Mustangs are 3-2 on the season. To be fair, they beat Prairie View A&M 69-0 to make the overall numbers look better. Their losses are to Oklahoma and TCU, but they’ve beaten Louisiana Tech and Charlotte pretty handily. ECU is better than those two teams, but certainly closer to them than Oklahoma and TCU.

The Pirates actually have a top-50 defense in yards per play allowed, but head coach Mike Houston has got to find some offensive production from somewhere. The loss of Holton Ahlers and Keaton Mitchell has really not helped, as the Pirates rank 130th in the country in yards per play. They have played the 59th-ranked schedule per Jeff Sagarin, but their only win came against Gardner-Webb.

ECU did score 28 points against App State, but only had 260 yards of offense and one score was a pick-six. I don’t have any opinion on this game.