Location: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas — 7 p.m. EST
Streaming: WATCH ESPN
Betting Line: Houston -28 according to Oddsshark
Houston’s record: 4-0
UCONN’s record: 2-2
Last year: UCONN won at home 20-17
It’s gonna be bad. It’s just gonna be bad Thursday night.
How bad? Here’s a tasty morsel (one of my favorites):
Here’s another: Frank Sinatra said, “The best revenge is massive success.”
This game will do both for Houston: it will be revenge for last year’s difficult loss and it will further UH’s massively successful run under Tom Herman.
Let’s jump in the time machine real quick...
In 2015, the Cougars traveled to UCONN with a gimpy Greg Ward and lost their only game of the year. Ward rolled his ankle against Memphis the previous week and sat out all but one series versus UCONN.
That one series was the final drive of the game after backup QB Kyle Postma got injured. So, UH’s injured starting QB came in to replace its newly injured backup QB on the final drive with the Cougars trailing 20-17.
Ward ended up throwing an interception with 55 seconds left in the game to seal Houston’s fate.
And not be overlooked, UH’s defensive star last season, Elandon Roberts, was ejected after playing less than four minutes of the game. He was flagged and booted for targeting after he knocked out — literally — UCONN’s quarterback, Bryant Shirreffs.
So, the Huskies’ backup QB Tim Boyle finished the game and produced just 110 yards on 10 of 22 passing.
It was a rough game all around for the Cougars.
Houston defensive end Cameron Malveaux put it best when he spoke to the media this week:
"It's not something you forget about. We were 10-0 and on a roll. Being crushed like that stayed with us, but we are looking at it as another step towards our goal of getting to the conference championship."
This season, some things are the same and some are massively different.
First, on UCONN’s side, Bryant Shirreffs and his top target Noel Thomas are back. Thomas caught 7 passes for 102 yards and 2 TDs in this game last year. Also returning is starting running back Arkeel Newsome.
The trio led the Huskies to a 3-point win over vaunted Maine (24-21) and a 3-point win over ACC juggernaut Virginia (13-10).
Alternating with those wins were losses to Navy and Syracuse.
On Houston’s side, to put it flatly, the Cougars are better on offense AND defense this season.
Yes, UH had to replace Roberts (NE Patriots), cornerback William Jackson III (CIN Bengals), top wide receiver Demarcus Ayers (PIT Steelers) and 4 of 5 offensive linemen.
But the team is deeper and more explosive across the board. At this point, the usual suspects are well known. And the steady emergence of do-it-all freshman — and Percy Harvin imitator — D’Eriq King has given Houston a new weapon with which to exploit opposing defenses.
Houston’s own defense is still allowing just 37 yards rushing per game. That’s insane, even when two of its four opponents were Texas State and FCS Lamar.
The Cougars will feast on the Huskies in prime time. A year’s worth of pent-up anger, frustration and aggression will be unleashed on a team that must know it’s coming but can, in all likelihood, do very little to stop it.
Houston wins 48-10 (this score reflects the prediction of a garbage-time score by UCONN)