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Preview, How to Watch: Navy hosts Houston in AAC clash

The Midshipmen are looking to improve to 4-0 in AAC play this season, but host a tough Houston team on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Navy at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Typically with these posts, we leave the gambling details at the bottom, but it seems worth pointing at the top that — as of Saturday morning — Navy is a 15-point home underdog to Houston.

What has Houston done to earn that kind of respect?

The Cougars are 1-1 on the season and both games were against opponents that Navy also faced. Like Navy, Houston beat Tulane and lost to BYU. However, the scores were much different. The Mids needed some late-game magic to beat Tulane, while the Cougars bested the Green Wave by 18 points. BYU thrashed Navy with ease, while Houston kept it a bit closer, losing by 17.

Still, is that enough to make Houston that heavy of a favorite? Vegas and other oddsmakers seem to think so.

Perhaps the line is less about what Houston has done and what Navy hasn’t.

Until last week, the Mids were inconsistent. Yes, they narrowly beat Tulane and Temple, but they had also been totally outmatched and blown out by BYU and Air Force.

But against East Carolina, the defense stepped up when it mattered, and — for the second straight week — the running game powered by fullbacks Jamale Carothers and Nelson Smith worked like a well-oiled machine. In a victory over the Pirates in Greenville, Navy seemed to find a winning formula. Feed the fullbacks, pass in opportunistic situations and don’t ask the defense to do too much.

Heading into this game, Navy is looking for its third-straight win and looking to improve to 4-0 in American Athletic Conference play. Navy hasn’t started off that well in conference play since 2016, and their third AAC win that season came against a heavily favored Houston team that was ranked No. 6 in the AP Top 25 Poll. Oddsmakers made Houston 16-point favorites that day, but Navy — led by Will Worth, Toneo Gulley, Bennett Moehring and Josiah Powell — came away with a stunning 46-40 victory.

Don’t count out the chances of a similar upset taking place Saturday afternoon.

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 24, 3:30 p.m. EST

Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium — Annapolis, Maryland

Watch: CBS Sports Network | John Sadak and Randy Cross will have the call, while Sheehan Stanwick Burch reports from the sidelines.

Spread: Most books have Houston favored by 14 to 15 points. The over/under is 54.5.