The Houston Cougars are off an up and down year that saw the team beat Oklahoma and Louisville and lose to SMU and Navy. The fact that their coach was red-hot a commodity was well known and Tom Herman did, in fact, leave for Texas on the eve of the Cougar’s bowl game which saw them throttled by San Diego State. Longhorn legacy quarterback and longtime Texas assistant Major Applewhite gets his first shot in the big seat. He’ll have 15 returning starters to work with and while the Coogs lose QB Greg Ward, pick up immensely talented but sometimes distracted A&M transfer, Kyle Allen.
The USTA Roadrunners have gotten a lot of love in this off season and some publications even have them challenging La Tech in CUSA’s West Division. The Roadrunners went to a bowl in just the sixth year of the program’s existence and return 14 key players from that squad including four CUSA first-teamers from last year including the conference Freshman of the Year. The nonconference schedule is ambitious with Houston and Baylor but their CUSA schedule is very manageable and might just have the Roadrunners headed for a November 25th showdown with La Tech in Ruston.
If you are interested in this game, you will need to check the school sites this week to check on the status of both teams after the devastation and flooding of Hurricane Harvey. USTA plays in the Alamo Dome so there is no issue regarding the playing field, only Houston’s ability to conduct school, practice, and travel.
Houston is off the best two year run in school history, amassing 22 wins. Their HC and quarterback are gone but there in no reason whatsoever (see above) that this program cannot continue to roll under Applewhite and his new schemes. The Cougars have players including last year’s Freshman All-All American DT Ed Oliver. Kyle Allen was a blue-chip prospect when he was recruited to A&M and threw for 3500+ yards, completing 59% of his passes with a 33-14 TD/Int ratio while with the Aggies. He’ll have Houston’s leading rusher back as well as three of the top four receivers from 2016 to work with behind three returning offensive linemen. Houston will once again be a force to be reckoned with in 2017.
Along with the talented returning starters that are back, HC Frank Wilson snagged a monster recruiting class (without question the best in school history) of 23 players, many of whom should be able to help immediately. It’s important to note that this team caught fire down the stretch last year and closed the year on a 5-1 ATS run. Besides Baylor and Houston, the Roadrunners have a very manageable schedule that includes getting Southern Miss and Marshall at home. A talented bunch of returning starters, additional bowl practices and a heralded recruiting class means USTA in on the rise.
If this game is going to be played as scheduled, the only responsible recommendation make would be to pass. Texas teams mean Texas kids and regardless of whether or not their respective schools were affected by the storm that has ravaged the state, these kids have friends and family throughout the state and it’s safe to say that their minds are probably not 100% focused on football. It’s early in the year and there are a lot of games out there. Proceed with caution on this one.