Game-By-Game Predictions for Houston's 2014 Season
Winning eight games was the closest thing fans had to the Bill Yeoman and Kevin Sumlin eras, while four of five of the team’s losses came by seven points or less.
But it’s not like Houston was a juggernaut in the American Athletic Conference. It didn’t play well against Temple, Memphis or South Florida, and laid an egg in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Vanderbilt.
Things could have been a lot worse, though, and quite frankly, they should have.
Houston led the nation in turnovers gained at 43, leaving it with a +25 turnover margin (also a nation-best) for the season. This stat couldn’t be more misleading.
Thanks to some numbers provided by SB Nation, Houston recovered 63 percent of all fumbles, intercepted almost one for every two pass breakups, and threw just one INT per 7.6 pass breakups – all far above the NCAA average.
In other words, the Cougars received some game-changing breaks in 2013 that made them a bit more competitive than they should have been.
So with much of the offense returning and a strong run defense set to take the field, I would say that UH is ready to take the next step and compete for an AAC title. But instead, I think it will be exactly where it was a year ago.
You just don’t get lucky twice.
8/29 – vs. UTSA: WIN
National champion Larry Coker is creating a winning culture at UTSA, but Houston won this matchup 59-28 on the road last season and the outcome should be similar here.
9/6 – vs. Grambling State: WIN
The Grambling State football program as a whole is sadly a huge mess right now, and won’t be much competition for Houston. This is a tune-up game before the Cougars visit BYU less than a week later.
9/11 – at BYU: LOSS
The battle of the Cougars. Now-sophomore quarterback John O’Korn threw three interceptions against the BYU defense in 2013, but should have thrown a lot more. On the other side, Taysom Hill combined for over 500 yards of offense with his explosive dual-threat abilities and will do so again.
9/27 – vs. Tennessee Tech: WIN
Facing lower-level FCS schools may benefit an FBS team’s record, but it certainly doesn’t prepare it for high-quality competition just a few days following.
10/2 – vs. Central Florida: LOSS
Houston played UCF tough last season, but forced two timely fumbles and struggled against an incredibly athletic defense that returns virtually everyone. This one will be decided by more than five points.
10/11 – at Memphis: WIN
Last year, Memphis took a 15-10 lead with 4:34 left in the third quarter (before losing 25-15) and kept Houston’s passing game in check, as evidence by O’Korn’s 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) stat line. A developing and potentially dangerous wide receiver corps won’t let that happen again.
10/17 – vs. Temple: WIN
Houston’s front seven was torched by BYU’s dual-threat under center. Temple sophomore P.J. Walker and Taysom Hill share a lot of similar qualities in terms of playing style and athleticism, so the former will also provide matchup problems for the Cougar defense. But when it’s all said and done, Houston’s 22 are better than the Owls’ 22.
11/1 – at South Florida: WIN
Last year’s 35-23 loss to Houston was the “first time” USF played well all year. O’Korn was dominant and although the defense had its issues, it had timely stops and kept the Bulls’ offense from ever finding any momentum. I expect much of the same in 2014.
11/8 – vs. Tulane: LOSS
The last time these two teams met in 2012, Houston breezed its way to a 40-17 win by way of much success running the football. Oh, how things can change in such short time. Tulane has one of the most aggressive defensive game plans in the country and will really test O’Korn’s decision-making skills. If the receivers can make big plays on their own – which could very well happen – the Cougars have much better chance of winning, but I think the Green Wave’s defensive line will be far too destructive in the backfield.
11/22 – vs. Tulsa: WIN
Tulsa’s secondary was middle-of-the-road in terms of team passing efficiency defense and hard a really difficult time scoring altogether. Neither of those things is particularly good, and even though it should slightly improve, it will struggle to keep up with Houston.
11/28 – at SMU: WIN
It won’t be 34-0, but there’s no reason why Houston should leave Gerald J. Ford Stadium without its eighth win of the season. When SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert went down, we got a small preview of how the Mustangs will look in 2014 – and it wasn’t very pretty.
12/6 – at Cincinnati: LOSS
The luck of the Cougars was strong in last year’s matchup, as Cincinnati missed two fourth-quarter field goals and watched then-sophomore corner Trevon Stewart return a fumble for a touchdown. But Houston still lost, and the Bearcats will be even better this season.
2014 Houston Projected Record: 8-4 (5-3)
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