Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, Texas — Saturday, 7 p.m. EST
Stream: WATCH ESPN
Betting Line: Houston -34 according to Oddsshark
Current records: Houston 3-0, Texas State 1-1
The Cougars follow a road win over the Bearcats with a road game against the Bobcats — it’s a big cat gauntlet.
Except this week’s game in San Marcos shouldn’t be as difficult as last week’s contest in Cincinnati.
Houston thoroughly struggled for three quarters versus the Bearcats but then dominated the fourth to claim the win.
The Cougars used back-to-back defensive touchdowns to lock it up and the incredible stat you’ve probably seen this week is that they’ve only allowed THREE total rushing yards to their opponents in the second halves of games this season.
That’s 3 yards on 39 attempts by 3 opponents for 2.8 inches per rush. I’m not sure what happens in the locker room at halftime but apparently UH decides to absolutely destroy the opposing team’s ability to run in the second half.
Houston is giving up just 38.3 yards rushing per game. And now the Cougars play Texas State, a team that runs for a whopping 64 yards per game. It’s possible the Bobcats might not finish the game with positive numbers in the rushing column.
Linebacker Steven Taylor is piling up accolades as one of the faces — and heavy hitters — on the defense. He was the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Week and the Football Writers Association of America’s National Defensive Player of the Week after the win over Cincinnati. (Greg Ward was the AAC’s Offensive Player of the Week)
Texas State has only played two games — a triple overtime win against Ohio and a 42-3 loss against Arkansas — so its defensive stats are hard to gauge. Either way, the Bobcats give up substantial yards and points to their opponents. They are currently listed at No. 104 in Paul Myerberg’s USA Today rankings of all 128 teams.
Ideally for Houston, this game will be similar to its week two matchup versus Lamar. Greg Ward has said he will play through the pain in his shoulder, and that’s great, but there’s no need for it this week. Hopefully the Cougars run up the score early and Ward can rest for the second half or the final three quarters.
Cornerback and kick returner Brandon Wilson — he of the 109-yard kick six commemorated in this t-shirt — has already been ruled out for this game. His health is of vital importance to Houston’s secondary and after he aggravated a lower leg injury against Cincinnati that he sustained against Lamar, he’ll rest this week.
Ultimately, we should see extensive playing time for Houston’s backups in a game that will probably be over by halftime.
Ward and Wilson, two of UH’s key components, suffered injuries in the first two weeks of the season and it will be critical to get them as must rest as possible over the course of the season. It’s a long time until Houston’s Nov. 17 clash with Louisville and the Cougars will need everyone at full strength for that game, which doesn’t discount potential traps in Connecticut, Navy and Tulsa between now and then.
Houston wins 45-6.