NCAA

Houston Cougars – Three Keys Versus Temple

With only three games left in the season, the Houston Cougars look to keep a one-game lead in the American Athletic Conference West Division as they play host to AAC foe Temple this Saturday at 6 p.m. in TDECU Stadium.

Here are the three keys to a victory for the Cougars over Temple. All stats are from American Digital Network, NCAA and the school websites.

Key One: Pass the football

The Cougars enter this week still holding onto the conference’s top passing offense, and they still rank in the top 15 nationally, averaging 315.9 yards per game. Starting quarterback D’Eriq King ranks 13th in the country in passing yards (2,578 yards). King has thrown for 30 touchdowns this season, ranking first in the conference and fourth in the NCAA.

Temple counters with the conference’s best passing defense, only allowing 165.8 yards per contest and a total of 12 touchdowns. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin leads the team in passes intercepted and sits third in the AAC in passes defended. Temple is also tied for third in the American in sacks, having taken down the quarterback 23 times this season.

In the first half of the Cougars’ game against SMU, the Cougars completely abandoned the passing game. King only attempted eight passes, completing two, for 56 yards in the first half of the game. This included a 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Stevenson. Houston would ultimately fall 45-31 against SMU with King attempting 22 passes, completing 11, for 175 yards.

The Cougars’ offense has always used the run to set up the pass, but the team seemingly ventured away from its strength. This ultimately cost them the game and put them in a tough position in the conference standings.

Key Two: Keep the home field advantage

The Houston Cougars have only lost five games in 31 contests at TDECU stadium. This includes the 2015 American Athletic Conference Championship where UH took down the Temple Owls 24-13. Since 2014, Houston has averaged 38.3 points per game while in the friendly confines of TDECU stadium, allowing 19.4 points per game to opponents.

This season, the team is a perfect 4-0 at home, averaging 53.25 points per game and giving up a total of 94 points. In their five road games this season, the Cougars have allowed 38.2 points per game and scored an average of 43.2 points per game. UH has rushed for 223 more yards at home than on the road in one less game.

King also thrives when at home. He has completed 66 percent of his passes at TDECU versus only 60 percent when on the road. He also has run for more yards (276) at home than on the road (191).

Key Three: Score when in the red zone

The Cougars have entered the red zone 39 times so far this season and have managed to score points in 34 tries, for an 87 percent clip. Houston has found pay dirt 31 times, with 14 rushing scores and 17 passing touchdowns. The team has turned the ball over twice on downs when in the red zone but has never turned the ball over via an interception or fumble.

Temple currently sits in the top spot in red zone defense, allowing a slim 72 percent scoring rate to opponents. The Owls have limited opponents to only 19 touchdowns, with ten on the ground and nine in the air. The key stat is that they have forced two interceptions and stopped opponents on downs twice.

Points will be crucial in this game as the Cougars take on the conference’s third-best scoring defense. Temple allows a mere 24.3 points per game on the season.

Texas vs. West Virginia Preview

The 15th-ranked (AP) Texas Longhorns welcome the 12th-ranked (AP) West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday in Austin. This is a pivotal Big 12 conference matchup, where the winner will have markedly increased their chances to appear in the conference title game at year’s end. Last year, Texas went up to Morgantown and knocked off a ranked West Virginia team. With the stakes this high and revenge certainly on the mind for WV, this could turn into another classic showdown. Let’s take a look at some keys and factors for this game.

Texas secondary vs West Virginia passing attack

Arguably the most important matchup of this game will be the Texas DBs vs the trio of West Virginia WRs. Led by junior receiver, David Sills, the Mountaineers have three receivers with at least 500 receiving yards. Texas will be tasked with slowing down a passing offense that ranks ninth in the country, averaging 331.3 YPG through the air. If QB Will Grier has time to pick his spots, it could be a long day for UT.

Can Texas keep up?

Much like in the circumstances heading into the Red River Rivalry game, Texas will have to score consistently to win. In that game, they put up 48 points and pulled out a victory. West Virginia scores about 40 points a game (39.9 PPG, 17th in the country), so it’s not far-fetched to say the Longhorns will need another 40 to win on Saturday. Another thing that Texas cannot afford is a slow start. Last week, they got down early to Oklahoma State and couldn’t complete the comeback. Playing at home, the crowd has to be a factor, and the only way that can happen is if the game is competitive.

Kill the clock

One way to keep West Virginia from lighting up the scoreboard: keep them off the field. In order to do that, the running game for Texas has to be on point. RBs Keontay Ingram and Tre Watson, along with QB Sam Ehlinger, will be key. Churning out yards on the ground will wear down the defense later in the game. West Virginia’s rush defense isn’t poor (34th in the country, 132.9 YPG), so it will take a strong game from the offensive line to get the job done. Texas must avoid penalties (especially pre-snap) to keep them from long down distances that will force them into passing situations.

(All stats provided by cfbstats)

2018 Red River Showdown Preview

For the first time since 2012, the annual contest between rivals Oklahoma and Texas is a ranked affair. Texas sits at #19 in the country and are winners of 4 straight games, 2 against ranked opponents. Oklahoma(#7) is undefeated and so far is the class of the Big 12 conference. Who will emerge from the Cotton Bowl wearing the Golden Hat? Let’s take a look at a couple areas that will likely determine the winner.

Keep Kyler Contained

If Texas wants to walk out of Dallas with a victory, they’ll have to limit Kyler Murray’s effectiveness. The junior QB is top 10 in every passing stat you could imagine. Not only that, he’s averaging 6.2 YPC on the ground. The Longhorns will have to play disciplined on defense in order for them to stay in the game. Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown are his main targets through the air.

The Sooners ground game took a huge hit when they lost star RB Rodney Anderson earlier in the year. However Murray and RB Trey Sermon have picked up the slack. It’s a tall task to ask this Texas defense to slow down a team that averages close to 49 points a game. It starts with Murray as he’s the engine that powers their high octane offense.

Consistency on Offense

Defense is the stronger side of this Longhorns team. If they want to win this game though, they’ll have to put points on the board. Coming into this game they’re only averaging 28.8 PPG. Unless their defense is playing lights out, that won’t be enough against a Sooners team who’s capable of scoring on every drive. The running game will be key. RB’s Tre Watson and freshman Keontay Ingram will have to shoulder the load.

Oklahoma’s defense has been less than impressive, giving up 405.2 YPG. Texas will have to run the ball effectively to drain the clock and keep Kyler Murray off the field. QB Sam Elingher will need to limit his mistakes through the air. If he can play poised, they can score on this Oklahoma secondary. Wide Receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson have the size, speed, and skills to exploit the Sooners weak pass coverage.

This is a measuring stick game for Tom Herman and his squad. He’s been tasked with returning the Texas program to national prominence. Winning this game will go a long way into changing the whole “Texas is Back!” opinion. If his team is focused on playing clean football, they have a chance to upset OU. If they aren’t disciplined though, Oreos and Twinkies won’t be the only thing getting fried at the State Fair on Saturday.

(All stats referenced from https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/ and ncaa.com)