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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Football

Houston hits the road for AAC opener vs. Tulane


UH must take the field again in New Orleans to face Tulane for its Thursday night American Athletic Conference opener. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Just six days after Houston’s 31-24 loss to now No. 19 Washington State in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff, UH must take the field again in New Orleans to face Tulane for its Thursday night American Athletic Conference opener.

The Cougars, whose non-conference schedule included two top-25 teams that they lost to, are going into the game with a team in the middle of an 18-day span in which they’re playing four games.

Despite the cramped scheduling, head coach Dana Holgorsen said the Cougars are not worried about having only six days to prepare for the Green Wave. 

“The biggest game of the year is in six days,” Holgorsen said after the loss to Washington State. “We start conference next week. Nobody cares it’s a short week.”

Tulane head coach Wilie Fritz shares Holgorsen’s sentiment

“We got a short work week,” Fritz said after the Green Wave’s 58-6 blowout win over the Missouri State Bears. “We’ve been preparing all summer. We knew it was going to be a Thursday night game a long time ago.”

Much like Eastern Carolina and Navy’s matchup in Week 2, Houston and Tulane’s game will be the only AAC game of the week.

Evenly matched

After three rough weeks against non-conference opponents, the Cougars are finally kicking off its AAC season.

Houston, a year after going 5-3 in the American last season and being just a win against Memphis away from clinching the AAC West and a spot in the conference title game, is going into the game as underdogs.

This is despite both teams offenses, their strong suits, being evenly matched.

In total offense, the Cougars and the Green Wave have averaged 385 and 384 yards, respectively, through Week 3. 

When broken down into passing and rushing, Tulane and Houston remain balanced.

Both have averaged just under 150 passing yards while rushing for 235-plus yards a game.

Considering some of the opponents each team has faced to start off the season, namely Oklahoma and Washington State for Houston and Auburn for Tulane, the two teams’ offenses have performed well.

History on UH’s side

To further gauge Houston’s chances against Tulane, one must also look at the history behind the two programs.

The Cougars have lost only one AAC opener since the inception of the conference in 2013, including those on the road.

UH’s lone loss, a 12-17 defeat to UCF in TDECU Stadium, was five years ago.

Houston’s record against Tulane is not half bad, either.

UH leads the all-time series 17-6, and since 2003, the Cougars are 13-2 against the Green Wave.

Holgorsen took part in two of those wins when he was Houston’s offensive coordinator 2008-09. In the two wins, UH outscored its opponent 86-30.

Even after Holgorsen left for Oklahoma State in 2009, the Cougars’ offensive dominance over the Green Wave continued.

Since the start of the decade, Houston has more than double the amount of points Tulane has scored in the teams’ matchups.

The totals?

A lopsided 316-150 in the Cougars’ favor that includes 2011’s 73-17 victory in New Orleans and 2018’s 48-17 win in Houston.

Yes, the Green Wave will be the favorite Thursday night, but if history says anything, Houston’s chances against Tulane isn’t small. 

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