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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Tale of the Tape: Houston versus Vanderbilt


Junior quarterback Greg Ward Jr.’s 15 rushing touchdowns this season ties him with LSU’s Leonard Fournette for most in NCAA. | Justin Tijerina / The Cougar


Here are some key matchups to look for when Vanderbilt University visits Houston Saturday.

Houston’s offense vs. Vanderbilt’s defense

The No. 18 Cougars have a potent and high-powered offense that can move the ball and score easily. Houston is No. 5 in the nation in yardage, averaging 561 yards per game.

Houston also averages 47 points per game, good enough to be No. 4. They’re led by the rushing threat posed by Greg Ward Jr., who’s tied with Louisiana State University’s Leonard Fournette for the most rushing touchdowns in the nation with 15 and Kenneth Farrow who has eight touchdowns of his own. Vanderbilt’s defense is sure to have their hands tied stopping the run.

On the other side of the ball, Vanderbilt has a stifling defense that’s only allowing 316 yards and 16 points per game, good enough to be No. 22 in total defense. Vanderbilt is led by linebacker Zach Cunningham, who has 50 tackles this season. The Commodores’ defense will be tough to run against. They are allowing only 3.6 yards per carry, while also allowing opponents to convert on 22 percent of third downs. Houston’s offense will have their work cut out for them when it comes to beating Vanderbilt’s defense.

Although Vanderbilt’s defense is tough and hard to score against, Houston should be able to score more often than they’re stopped. Expect Houston’s offense to prevail.

Greg Ward Jr. vs. Johnny McCrary

The performance of the two quarterbacks, Ward and Johnny McCrary, will be key to the outcome of the game.

Ward is 133 for 186 in passing, throwing for a total of 1,734 yards. He has 10 touchdowns passes, while only throwing two interceptions. As good as he is through the air, he’s even better on the ground, running for 677 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Vanderbilt quarterback McCrary is also a formidable opponent who can hurt any defense. McCrary is 139 for 240 through the air, with a quarterback rating of 109.5. Although he has 10 interceptions to only six touchdowns, he’s a threat on third downs and can run when he needs to.

As formidable as McCrary is, Ward should still out-throw and outrun him.

Kenneth Farrow vs. Zach Cunningham

This is sure to be a matchup that may go unnoticed by many, but will be crucial to the outcome of the game.

Kenneth Farrow has been a force running the ball, especially when running between the tackles. Farrow has 112 carries for 669 yards and eight touchdowns. He can hit you hard and getting him down in the open field won’t be an easy job.

Across from him will be Cunningham, who has controlled the line with relative ease, recording 50 tackles midway through the season. Cunningham can clog up the middle and he is a threat on the blitz.

Cunningham can clog the middle and help with the run, but Farrow will have his way and be efficient running the ball.

Final Thoughts

Vanderbilt has a stout, stifling defense that can slow down Houston’s offense. I see them coming out strong and causing Houston’s offense to start slow. However, Houston’s offense picks it up in the second half and takes over the game. Houston dominates the second half and wins by a few of touchdowns.

Houston wins 45-21.

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