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2013 Houston Cougars
Schedule and Odds
Houston isn't really all that hard to figure out. They can score, but their defense is really bad. That's why two of their games had a total of more than 100 points last year. In a weaker conference, the Cougars finished with a 4-4 conference record and didn't really compete with the better schools because of their poor defense. Playing against tougher teams all season long could be a problem for them in 2013.
The news doesn't get much better as only four starters are returning to the defensive side. Houston picked up new defensive coordinator David Gibbs with the hope that he can find some consistency with the unit. Their strength is at linebacker where Derrick Mathews leads the way along with LSU transfer Trevon Randle. The secondary also has some experience, most notably safety Trevon Stewart who finished with 126 tackles last season as a freshman. The line is the most inexperienced as three of the four starters are underclassmen. If the defense can't pick up the slack, Houston will continue to have trouble grinding out wins.
The offense has a problem to deal with themselves as top running back Charles Sims (1,224 total yards) asked for a release in order to improve his draft stock at a better school. With Sims gone, the new job will be split between Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson. David Piland will likely be the starting QB, but if he continues to have accuracy issues, he probably won't hold down the position for long. After completing 57 percent of his passes last season, he was eventually benched in the final two games. His top four wide receivers are returning which should help whoever is at QB. The offensive line returns tons of experience and should also help in the process.
2013 Houston Cougars Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Southern
Sept. 7 at Temple
Sept. 21 vs. Rice
Sept. 28 at UTSA
Oct. 12 vs. Memphis
Oct. 19 vs. BYU
Oct. 26 at Rutgers
Oct. 31 vs. South Florida
Nov. 9 at UCF
Nov. 16 at Louisville
Nov. 23 vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 29 vs. SMU
Houston's goal will be to get back to a bowl game this year after reaching only five wins in 2012. That means they'll have to win their first three home games against subpar opponents. Their first two road games will be against Temple and UTSA who are both beatable. If Piland and company can pour the points on bad defenses, they should begin the season with five straight wins although that's hoping for a lot.
Their first viable defense will be against BYU in mid-October and then their AAC schedule picks up. Road games at Rutgers, UCF and Louisville could get ugly for the Cougars if their defense sees no improvement from last season.
Because of that early season schedule, six wins and a bowl game are a possibility, but they'll be right on the edge. If they can move on without Sims and Piland can find his wide receivers with more consistency, the Cougars should be able to win six games based on offense alone.
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