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UCONN

vs.

Houston

College Football Pick

9/29/16

This matchup has been eating away at Houston for almost a year now. Back in 2015, Connecticut gave Houston its only loss of the season, shooting down any hopes the Cougars had of making the College Football Playoff. And so, with quarterback Greg Ward Jr. back in the lineup, Houston is looking to take those demons and put them firmly in the past.

Greg Ward is obviously the key person in this game. With him missing most of the last meeting, Kyle Postma finished with 190 passing yards, one TD and one INT, while also rushing for 52 yards on 4.0 yards per carry. The case can easily be made that the Cougars would've won the game if Ward played all 60 minutes.

In the 20-17 win, the Huskies took an early lead and then proceeded to run the ball the rest of the way with 43 carries as a team getting 3.6 yards per tote. Even through the air, they averaged just 5.0 yards per attempt.

UConn is more or less the same this season with Bryant Shirreffs under center and if they don't get the early lead, the same strategy won't work, that's for certain. Nothing is much different about the Huskies this year, their defense continues to keep them in games, while the offense scores just enough to get wins. They beat Maine 24-21 and a couple weeks ago it was Virginia 13-10. But can the defense step up and hold down Ward and company?

Ward actually hasn't been that good statistically this year. While he reached 300 passing yards against both Oklahoma and Cincinnati, he only managed three TDs and two INTs in those games. To go along with that, he had 44 carries for just 74 yards. But that said, they're still scoring points, with the help of defense, special teams and running back Duke Catalon.

Catalon has kept the ground game going for the Cougars, even if Ward has struggled a bit. UConn played great defense in this game a year ago, but now on the road, it could be a different story. And to go along with that, it's a question if whether the Huskies will be able to score 14 or even 10 points.

If Houston can get out to an early lead, Shirreffs will have to sling it more often than he's used to. He was asked to pass more against Syracuse and his 27-of-45 for 264 yards wasn't enough. Shirreffs leads the Huskies running the ball, as well, along with back Arkeel Newsome. The issue is that they aren't all that efficient, averaging just less than 3.3 yards per carry as a team.

Some will look at the revenge factor and back Houston because of that reason alone, but that's not always a great reasoning. The main thing to look at is Ward playing in a home game against a team that has trouble moving the ball if they get down by too much. If the Cougars come out and score a couple quick touchdowns, it could be a long day for the Huskies unless Shirreffs plays better than what we've seen of him so far in his career.

Our Pick - UCONN +28 and UNDER 49.5

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