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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Commentary

Questions leading up to Houston versus Cincinnati


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After a shutout victory over Vanderbilt, the Cougars look to get their first win over Cincinnati since 1999. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

 

As the No. 18 Cougars welcome a familiar foe, the University of Cincinnati, to TDECU Stadium, some questions still remain when it comes to the matchup.

Can the Cougars’ defense slow down the high powered Bearcats?

Cincinnati is coming into this game off a 52-7 beat down over the University of Central Florida and the Bearcat offense is firing on all cylinders, averaging 38.5 points per game — good for 16th best in the nation and the most prolific the Cougars have faced this season.

Led by junior signal caller Gunner Kiel, the Bearcats feature a prolific yet balanced offense, averaging over 200 rushing yards and over 370 passing yards per game.

However, the Houston defense is coming off their best game of the season after they held Vanderbilt University scoreless, picking up their first shutout of the season and first over an SEC school since 1969. The Cougars added 4 turnovers against the Commodores, giving them 22 on the season tied for best in the nation.

How will the Cougars respond to increased attention as they aim for 9-0?

Every victory brings more national attention as the Cougars try to remain undefeated and in the hunt for the AAC title, with every game being important as the undefeated No. 15 University of Memphis Tigers come to Houston next Saturday.

Head coach Tom Herman has been consistent about any increased pressure on the team as their record improves saying their goal is not to focus on the big picture but aim to go 1-0 every week.

“Pressure is that uneasy feeling that you have when you’re not prepared and we’re prepared every week,” Herman said in a press release. “We’re focused solely on being 1-0 this week against Cincinnati.”

Can the Cougars end their losing streak to the Bearcats?

The Cougars have lost five straight to the Bearcats dating back to 1999, when both were members of Conference USA.

Explosive offenses have always been prevalent during the streak with the average score being 24.2-37.2. This one looks to be no different in this contest featuring two of the top three offenses in the AAC in both yards and scoring.

The Bearcat defense has been susceptible to the run this season, giving up 172.8 rushing yards per game, and the Cougars will need to rely heavily on the legs of junior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and senior running back Kenneth Farrow to not only provide a spark but keep the talented Bearcat offense on the sidelines.

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