Start Time: 11 a.m. CST
Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium (Tulsa, Okla.)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: College Sports Live-Houston
Tulsa- 99.5 KXBL
Series Record: Houston leads 21-18-0
First Meeting: Tulsa 28 - Houston 21 (Dec. 2, 1950, Houston, Tex.)
Last Meeting: Houston 38 - Tulsa 28 (Nov. 22, 2014, Houston, Tex.)
Live Stats: Link
Betting Line: Houston -7, O/U 80
HOUSTON (3-0, 0-0 AAC):
Houston has had exactly the start to the season that they'd hoped and expected, but this Tulsa team is an entirely different beast than the teams the Coogs have played so far. Still, UH has two of the best offensive players on the field in this game in Greg Ward Jr. and Kenneth Farrow. The offense is going to go as these two guys go.
On defense, the Coogs are stacked. From 2013 through 2014, no program took the ball away more than the Houston Cougars and the secondary alone returns 97 career starts. William Jackson is the leader of the uni (was named a preseason All-American by Phil Steele), and scored his second career defensive touchdown last week against Texas State with a 35-yard INT return. The defense is facing their biggest test of the year so far when they head to Tulsa on Saturday.
Keys to Victory (UH):
1.) Let the big dog eat.
Feed Kenneth Farrow early, and often. As good as Greg Ward is, the team needs to live on Farrow's legs. On the season, Farrow is averaging 4.1 YPR even though he has yet to find the end zone. His presence in the backfield, and ability make it easier for Ward to do what he needs to do, whether in the passing game, or running the ball as well.
2.) No fly zone.
Tulsa QB Dane Evans is averaging 38 passing attempts per game, and 62.3% completion rate. He has also protected the ball as well. The defense (namely the secondary) has to keep the ball from reaching the Golden Hurricane receivers.
3.) Protect the football.
Greg Ward has done a great job on the young season of protecting the football whether he's running or passing, and that has to continue in this game. On the season, Ward is completing 75.3% of his passes and has eight touchdowns with only one INT in three games. Houston has only lost one fumble on the season as a team as well. But again, Tulsa at home is going to be an entirely different animal than the teams Houston has seen thus far. Tulsa also doesn't need your help.
Tulsa (2-1, 0-0 AAC):
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane have looked very good in the early going this season as they step into conference play with a 2-1 overall record. The lone loss on their record, a 52-38 loss at Oklahoma in week three. Still in that loss, QB Dane Evans threw for more than 400 yards and had four touchdowns. running back Zack Langer added 161 yards and a touchdown to the effort as well. As a team, the offense is averaging more than 600 yards per game.
The defense, however, has given up a ton of yards, and points on the season as well. Opposing offenses average 575.33 yards per game against the Golden Hurricane, including 270 YPG on the ground, and 39 PPG. Senior safety Michael Mudoh has 40 tackles on the season thus far and is currently first in the country in that catagory. Mudoh with his 40 tackles this season now has more than 300 in his collegiate career. He truly is the quarterback of the defense and the secondary will look to him for the calls on the field.
Keys to Victory (TU):
1. Be yourself.
Tulsa has gotten off to a hot start in 2015 throwing the ball an average of 38 times for 390 YPG with a decent running game to back it up. The worst thing Tulsa could do in this game is to get away from what has been successful so far.
2. Stop Farrow.
Again, as good as Greg Ward Jr. is, you have to stop Houston's workhorse running back. If you can, stop Farrow, and force Houston into passing situations.
3. Three things can happen when you throw the football...and two of them are bad.
Make Ward throw the ball. Ward is a very good passer, but if you have to choose between the two ways he's going to beat you, you might as well choose the one that has a 2/3 chance to be good for your team.
Prediction: This game marks the second test of the season for the Houston Cougars (Beat Louisville in Week 2), but this one is tough to call. They say that home field advantage is worth a field goal, so I'll take Houston 31-27.