TULSA, Okla. – The season can be chalked up as one to forget for Houston under first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen, its first losing campaign since 2012. Losers of three games in a row, the Cougars will now travel to Tulsa on Saturday in a battle to avoid last place in the American Athletic Conference West Division.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: Tulsa -3.
After losing preseason All-AAC quarterback D’Eriq King, the Cougars have struggled under center. Sophomore Clayton Tune has started five of the last six games and has only managed to eclipse 200 yards passing once while throwing for seven touchdowns against five interceptions. Tulsa is feeling much better after snapping a five-game losing streak, upsetting two-time defending conference champion Central Florida 34-31. The Golden Hurricane may face their own issues under center as starter Zach Smith injured his leg late in the first half of the UCF contest and was unable to return.
ABOUT HOUSTON (3-7, 1-5 AAC)
Despite the struggles at quarterback, the Cougars have still been able to maintain a decent running game despite being down their top six offensive linemen from the start of the season, scoring a rushing touchdown in all but one game while having multiple scores in seven of 10 games. Kyle Porter has led the way with 548 yards and three touchdowns while appearing in all but one contest. As for weapons for Tune, wide receiver Marquez Stevenson has twice as many yards and receiving touchdowns as anyone else on the team.
ABOUT TULSA (3-7, 1-5 AAC)
Should Smith be unable to go, Seth Boomer, who started eight games in 2018, would be under center for the Golden Hurricane after completing 6 of 10 passes for 87 yards and a score in the win against UCF. Tulsa will continue to lean on its defense, which had six sacks and two interceptions in last week’s upset. Defensive end Trevis Gipson leads the unit with seven sacks, tied for 27th in the nation, and 11.5 tackles for loss.
1. Houston has started 42 different players this year, tied for sixth-most in the nation.
2. The Cougars have won four of five matchups against Tulsa in AAC play.
3. The Golden Hurricane have scored 115 points in the second quarter this year while scoring 139 points in the other three quarters and overtime combined.
PREDICTION: Tulsa 27, Houston 24