DATE: Saturday, November 14th
START TIME: 2:30pm CT
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN2
LINE: Houston -14
LOCATION: TDECU Stadium (Houston, TX)
Well, it’s been an interesting 2020 season for the Houston Cougars, and not just because of COVID. In Dana Holgorsen’s second season, there’s been definite improvement despite frustrations saying otherwise. It’s not as quick of a turnaround as fans would like, but this team’s on the way up. Frustrating losses to UCF and Cincinnati showed how far they have to go, but there have been promising signs everywhere.
Marquez Stevenson, Payton Turner, and Donavan Mutin all missed the Cincinnati game with injuries. Their health for this weekend’s game remains up in the air, and all three would be missed dearly. This is a good chance for other players to step up though, and some blooming stars can break out even more. Chidozie Nwankwo continues to be one of Houston’s best defenders, and already appears to be on a path towards stardom. The defense has struggled through the last couple games, giving up a combined 82 points, so they’re looking to get back on track. On the other side of the ball, there’s also promise for the future.
Clayton Tune continues to prove that he can be calm in the pocket and dissect a defense with short to medium throws, but one thing I’d like to see him do is bring a sense of urgency. Last week against Cincinnati, it didn’t seem like the Houston offense was present. Almost like they were sleep walking through the game. They weren’t playing at the tempo we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. With Stevenson out, Tune and the offense need to find a way to move the ball quickly down the field. The offensive line can help that tremendously by opening up a run game that’s been lacking so far this year.
I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve broken down a ton of USF Bulls film this year, but the parts I’ve seen have been interesting. Yes, this is a 1-6 team, but they’re three points away from being 3-4. Jeff Scott has this team playing better than expected, and it’s a team that has an upset or two in them.
From Houston’s perspective, they face another great secondary. With Stevenson out, someone else has to step up against the Bulls defensive backs. The likes of KJ Sails, Nick Roberts, and Mike Hampton will test the Cougars receivers, and any struggles in the passing game for Houston could mean the Bulls are in store for a potential upset.
Scott’s biggest struggle has been quarterback play so far, though both options have flashed their potential. Jordan McCloud is the long term option, but has struggled with consistency. It might be a while before this offense gets things figured out, and they’ll have their hands full with Houston’s defensive line.
Last time USF came to TDECU Stadium, D’Eriq King and the offense had a monster game. Tune isn’t King, but he can find similar success against a Bulls defense that’s struggled to make stops against good offenses. USF came so close to upsetting Memphis last week, so the Coogs would be wise to take this team seriously. They could use a business-like win where they leave nothing in question, and I think Holgorsen and his staff will get this team back on track. HOUSTON 35 USF 17