American Athletic Conference Preview: Houston Cougars
Part 9 of my American Athletic Conference Preview is going to be on the Houston Cougars. Last season they had a dream season ended in Annapolis against Navy. They started the season ranked number 15 and beat Oklahoma in the Texas Kickoff. Which skyrocketed them to #6 in the polls. They would go on to start the season 5-0 with their matchup against Navy looming. They would lose that game 46-40 and drop to number 13 in the rankings. They also lost their head coach Tom Herman to the University of Texas in November of 2016. He had a 2-year record of 22-4 at Houston. Major Applewhite steps in and hopes to continue the success Herman had there.
Best Case Scenario- They start the season off relatively easy with UT San Antonio. Which they will obliterate them and set up their match against Arizona in Arizona. It will be a tough matchup but for the purpose of this article, they get a loss in a tough fought match. They then finish the month of September against Rice, Texas Tech, and Temple. They will win all 3 and move to 4-1 for the season. October brings 3 home games and 1 Road game, Home against SMU, Memphis and East Carolina and a road game against Tulsa. They should win 3 out of 4 but their one loss will prove costly as they will lose to Memphis and cost them a shot at the West Divison because of the tie breaker. November rolls around and they only have 3 games at South Florida, at Tulane and a rematch against Navy at home this time. They win 2 out of 3 of these including the rematch against Navy. Houston finishes the season 9-3 and good enough for second place in the West.
Worst Case Scenario- They still get their win against UT-San Antonio but it was a hard fought match and that spills over to their game against Arizona in which they get humiliated. They get Rice next and still win that game so they are sitting at 2-1 now. Next up a loss to Texas Tech followed by a loss at Temple and a win against SMU. That drops them to 3-3 with back to back tough conference matchups against Tulsa and Memphis, which they drop both and fall to 3-5. They break the two-game losing against East Carolina but then drop another to USF. And finish up with a win against Tulane and a loss to Navy which will put the at 5-7 and not bowl eligible.
What needs to happen for Best Case to play out. First and most importantly the blocking has to be way better than it was last season. They lost Greg Carr but they have former Texas A&M star recruit Kyle Allen ready to step in. On the defensive side, they need to keep the pressure coming and continue to force mistakes. And lastly, they will need to win the turnover battle in order to be successful this season.