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The First Test: Houston vs Arizona Preview

Cougars get their first test of the season at home against Arizona

NCAA Football: Houston at Rice Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Start Time: 11:00 am CT

Location: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas

Spread: Houston -3.5

Series Record: 2-1 (Last Matchup: Houston 19-16, 2017)

After a Week 1 win over Rice 45-27, the Cougars are back at home to face their true first test of the year, the Arizona Wildcats. This is going to be the 11:00 game to watch this Saturday. Khalil Tate vs Ed Oliver. D’Eriq King vs a Power 5 defense. This is a game that Arizona can’t lose, and a game that the Cougars need to win.


3 Players to Watch For: Houston

  1. Ed Oliver is going to be matched up against one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the country. After a performance against Rice (5 solo tackles, 13 total), he’s going to be coming into this game with some momentum. Put that up against an Arizona offense that was limited heavily last week by BYU, and it’s clear who has the edge coming into this game.
  2. Marquez Stevenson led the way last week for the receivers, earning 107 yards and a touchdown off of five receptions, one of those going for 57 yards. Keep an eye on him to go deep again against a defense that looked shaky at times en route to giving up 28 points in Week 1.
  3. D’Eriq King had an incredible performance against Rice, going 17-24 and throwing for 320 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding another 33 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His dual threat ability should make him very dangerous and there is serious potential for him to put up serious numbers.

Key Unit That Needs to Show Up: Defense. If Khalil Tate has his way on Saturday, this game can get out of hand quickly.


3 Players to Watch For: Arizona

  1. Khalil Tate is looking for a breakout game after being somewhat limited in the air against BYU, throwing 197 yards and a touchdown. He is very elusive and can get away once outside the tackle box, as proved by a rushing touchdown last week, and possesses serious threats in the air and on the ground against the Cougars.
  2. The Offensive Line (specifically the interior). They must block Ed Oliver and Co. If they don’t protect Tate from the middle then things will get sloppy bad. They must be on their best game if their going to keep the offense moving.
  3. The Defensive Secondary. This is not an offense that can be given any slack. Houston likes to throw deep, and is efficient at throwing deep. If the defensive backs can’t slow down the trio of Marquez Stevenson, Courtney Lark, and Keith Corbin then things can become difficult to deal with.

Key Unit That Needs to Show Up: Offense. The line needs to protect Tate from a hard-nosed defensive front seven and the run game needs to keep the Cougars in check.


Outlook: This should be a game that comes down to the last possession. Someone is going to have to step up in a big way in the 4th quarter, and it may fall onto the shoulders on one of the kickers. This is a game that could go either way, and may even be settled in overtime, but I think the Wildcats’ defense will bend just enough for Houston to take the lead late. Arizona 24, Houston 28