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2018

Houston Cougars

College Football

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Even with all of the talent Houston has had, it last won a league title in 2015, which seems too long ago for a team that has Ed Oliver. The Cougars were just 7-5 last year with a bowl loss to Fresno State and two extremely disappointing losses to Tulsa and Tulane in the regular season. Major Applewhite decided to hire Kendal Briles to give the offense a jump, but it remains to be seen how that works. Houston yet again has a legitimate shot to win the AAC (third-best odds at +625) with an over/under of eight wins at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Quarterback probably won’t be decided until fall with D’Eriq King hoping to hold onto the position against Quinten Dormady, who transferred from Tennessee. Both have some experience, but King provides a bit more with his legs rushing for 341 yards in limited time last year. Running back also got a boost with Baylor’s Terence Williams deciding to come to Houston, which adds another piece in the backfield. He’ll compete with Mulbah Car (372 yards) for carries. Receiver is looking for new pieces to step up with Courtney Lark (nine receptions) and Keith Corbin (10 receptions) the top returnees outside of King, who had 29 receptions last year before moving to quarterback. There’s a lot of hope riding on Briles and this revived offense and that should be possible behind a line that features all upperclassmen, three of them returning starters.

Defense is an area Houston should be dominant, but that wasn’t often the case last year because Oliver can only do so much. He has 39.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons and +12500 odds to win the Heisman, which are high for a defensive player out of a smaller conference. At end, Jerard Carter hopes to stay healthy, while TCU transfer Isaiah Chambers adds another dynamic piece to the group. The pieces on the back end should be good enough to combine with a dominant front. Leroy Godfrey and Emeke Egbule provide experience at linebacker, while safety is led by three-year starter Garrett Davis and Ole Miss transfer Deontay Anderson. If this group doesn’t allow less than 20 points per game, it’d be a disappointment.  

The Cougars get some good tests early on, especially defensively as they face Khalil Tate and Arizona and then a trip to Texas Tech. Win one of those games and this team should be looking at eight wins at a minimum (as long as no games are cancelled like last year). Trips to Navy and Memphis are clear roadblocks in winning the AAC West, but those could end up being Houston’s only two conference losses with ECU and SMU being the other road games. Of course, this is all assuming the offense improves immediately under Briles and the defense turns into the conference’s best group. The Cougars have the tools to do both of those things, but this is still a team that was blown out by two-win Tulsa last year. Betting on upside alone, Houston would be a nice pick to win the AAC and reach eight or nine wins in the regular season.

 

2018 Houston Cougars Football Schedule

Sept. 1 at Rice

Sept. 8 vs. Arizona

Sept. 15 at Texas Tech

Sept. 22 vs. Texas Southern

Oct. 4 vs. Tulsa

Oct. 13 at East Carolina

Oct. 20 at Navy

Oct. 27 vs. South Florida

Nov. 3 at SMU

Nov. 10 vs. Temple

Nov. 15 vs. Tulane

Nov. 23 at Memphis

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