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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Football

Two 3-7 teams clash in Cougars vs. Golden Hurricane


Houston took down Tulsa in the two teams' October 2018 matchup, beating the Golden Hurricane 41-26. | File photo

Houston took down Tulsa in the two teams’ October 2018 matchup, beating the Golden Hurricane 41-26. | File photo

A tale of two 3-7 records, Tulsa and the Houston could not be more opposite coming into their Saturday night matchup at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Whereas Houston is wrapping up a dismal first year under coach Dana Holgorsen, Tulsa, despite their record, have shown marked improvement since a 3-9 campaign in 2018.

Tulsa is looking to gain momentum as the season’s end nears after pulling off a 34-31 upset over UCF before their bye week.

UH is looking to blank the season and move on from a 45-27 loss to No. 18 Memphis last Saturday.

The two school’s records could not be more different, despite numeral similarities.

Tulsa is far better than their 3-7 record indicates.

Three of its losses have come late, including a 3OT defeat to Memphis. Houston’s is a fair representation of a season of wishful thinking halted by adversity, a gauntlet schedule and drama galore.

Houston will travel to Tulsa to develop their youth.

Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune continues to make progress; freshman left tackle Patrick Paul will make another start, filling in for the injured (high ankle sprain) Josh Jones. A young, improving defense will use the valuable reps to gain experience.

Tulsa is playing to win. They feel good about pulling off a massive upset. The triplets of redshirt junior quarterback Zach Smith (questionable – left knee), junior running back Shamari Brooks and junior wide receiver Keylon Stokes could give the Cougars problems.

For UH, rebounding as a pass-defense will be a key to victory. Their 28 passing touchdowns allowed is the third-worst mark in the country. Tulsa will exploit that, no matter who drops back as a passer — redshirt sophomore Seth Boomer if Smith does not play. Look for the Golden Hurricane offense to attack the Cougars from the get-go.

While Tulsa will benefit from attacking Houston’s secondary, Holgorsen and Co.’s game plan should center around the run. Their rush-attack, averaging 200.8 yards per game, could be used heavily against a Tulsa rush-defense.

Tulsa allows 201.5 yards per game, so expect to see Houston attempt to tread out yards on the ground with junior Kyle Porter and senior Patrick Carr, who could make his return from knee surgery on Saturday.

Though Houston has won nine of its last 13 matchups with Tulsa, Saturday evening’s American Athletic Conference is no “gimme” for the Cougars.

The tilt should be one of exploitation of susceptible defenses, with the Cougars likely favoring the run and the Golden Hurricane passing the ball, no matter who plays quarterback. 

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