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Saturday, December 2, 2023


Week 4 Preview: UH finishes non-conference schedule against SHSU

UH is looking to get back to .500 on the year after two straight losses to Rice and TCU. | Anh Le/The Cougar

At TDECU Stadium, the Cougars and Bearcats will square off on Saturday at 6 p.m., as Houston looks to defeat Sam Houston for the fifth time in a row.

The Cougars aim to rebound as they get ready for their first meeting against Sam Houston since 2005 after dropping the Big 12 home opener against TCU last week.

Both teams will clash for the seventh time overall, with the Cougars holding a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series against the Bearcats.

The last time Houston and Sam Houston faced off, Houston prevailed 31-10.

Unfulfilling Big 12 Debut

After coming off a heartbreaking 43-41 overtime loss to Rice in the Bayou Bucket, the Cougars looked to turn the tables going into their first Big 12 game, but things didn’t go as planned.

Just 1:31 into the game, TCU’s offense had a brisk opening drive that culminated in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Morris to Warren Thompson.

Matthew Golden returned a kickoff 98 yards for Houston’s lone touchdown late in the first half, trimming TCU’s lead to 13-10. Emani Bailey responded back for TCU scoring on a 16-yard run, putting the Horned Frogs up 20-13 heading into halftime.

TCU dominated from that point on and left the Cougars scoreless in the second half, defeating UH 36-13.

Familiar Territory

Houston has a history of success against Conference USA opponents. This year, Sam Houston is in its first year in Conference USA after making the transition from FCS to FBS.

Houston has won their last six contests against Conference USA opponents and will look to make it seven on Saturday.

The Cougars’ last victory against a Conference USA opponent was Rice in 2022, whom they defeated 34–27. Rice moved to the American Athletic Conference this season.

Playmakers for the Cougars

In the first inaugural season of the Big 12, multiple Cougars have stood out to start the season.

Sophomore wideout Samuel Brown leads the Big 12 in receiving yards (343), yards per game (114.3), and receptions per game (6.7). His 20 receptions are tied for the most in the conference.

One out of the 12 players in the nation to have scored on a kickoff return this season is Houston sophomore wide receiver Matthew Golden. Last week against TCU, Golden sprinted 98 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff. In the first three games, Golden has scored four touchdowns in total but has had problems with drops thus far.

Senior safety Malik Fleming is tied for the national lead in total interceptions after three games with three. Fleming has also had success on punt returns, most notably logging a 48-yard return in the season opener against UTSA to set up a UH touchdown.

Junior defensive end Nelson Ceaser — who ranks No. 12 nationally and first in the Big 12 — contributed three of the team’s six sacks thus far this season.

Starts with Defense

Given how Sam Houston’s offense has played so far this season, the Cougars defense will have plenty of chances to make plays on Saturday.

Through its first two FBS games, Sam Houston has scored just three points overall. Sam Houston is last in the FBS with an average total offense of just 133 yards per game.

If the Cougars’ defense can take advantage of the Bearcats’ offensive struggles and turn them into points, UH will end up right where they want to be heading into Big 12 play.

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