Houston’s run to the AAC Championship game begins now. This is where the tough part of the schedule begins, and will show us if this team is a legitimate contender. An undefeated USF Bulls team comes to town, and is looking to knock off Houston and keep their run to the championship going as well.
What happened last year?
Kyle Postma originally got the start, but it was D’Eriq King that took over. King threw for 137 yards with a score, and added 83 yards and two more scores on the ground. His prayer of a pass to Courtney Lark converted a key fourth down, and King later scored to put the Cougars ahead for good. This also gave USF it’s first loss of the season last year, so there’s a good chance many of these players remember that.
How does Houston win?
It’s fairly simple. The offense needs to continue to be as explosive as it has been all year. USF’s defense might be one of the better defenses Houston’s faced, but there’s no reason why the Cougars shouldn’t be explosive. King and his receivers will face a secondary that is solid, so it will be a good test for them. If Houston’s run game can get going early, it will open up the play action pass for King, and that will put USF in a bad spot.
It all comes down to the defense. Here’s where Houston’s defense ranks in various categories:
- S&P+: 30.1 (84th)
- Total yards per game: 483 (117th)
- Passing yards per game: 333.6 (Last/130th)
- Rushing yards per game: 149.3 (56th)
- Points per game: 29.1 (T-84th)
- 3rd down conversion %: 42.8 (103rd)
It’s been said that Houston is a second half team, but there are games where they may not be able to wait that long. Teams have scored quite a bit against Houston’s backups defensively, but the starters haven’t exactly been elite either. If the Cougars are slow to start, USF has the potential to jump out to a big lead. The real question will be if Ed Oliver is healthy.
We don’t have a reason to believe the Houston’s star will sit out the game, but he was ruled questionable earlier this week. Oliver is the steadying force that helps the Cougars defense is so many ways. If he plays, Houston has a great chance of winning. If he’s out, there will be even more pressure on King and the offense to produce.
USF has been on a roller coaster ride to get to 7-0, as they did last year. This is a team with a lot of potential, but they can’t seem to blowout bad teams. What would they do if they finally met a good team? We get to see their first opportunity tomorrow. Houston’s offense will be tough to stop, and that might just be the difference.
Houston 42 USF 24