Week 1 Preview: Houston Cougars vs Oklahoma Sooners
By: Tony Thomas
September 1, 2019
Week 1 continues tonight as the Houston Cougars take on the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, OK.
The Cougars are led by new Head Football Coach Dana Holgersen. Holgersen was the head coach at West Virginia from 2011-2018. He returns to Houston where he was previously the offensive coordinator in 2008-2009 under Kevin Sumlin. Houston posted a 8-5 record in 2018, and are coming off an 70-14 beat down at the hands of Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The Cougars have 8 starters returning on offense, led by QB D’Eriq King (2982 yards passing, 36 TD’s, 6 INT’s; 674 yard rushing, 14 TD’s). King is an ESPN Top 50 player for 2019, ranked at #40. The offensive line returns 3 starters, the top running back is back, and 3 experienced WR’s also return. Houston averaged 44 points per game and 513 yards of total offense per game, scoring over 40 points ten times. They gained 6663 total yards for the season.
The Cougar defense only returns 4 starters. The biggest loss is 3-time All-American DT Ed Oliver, who was drafted into the NFL. The defense allowed opponents to score 38 points per game and allowed 496 yards of total offense per game.
Oklahoma is coming off a 12-2 season in 2018, and a #4 final ranking in the AP Poll after a loss in the CFP Semi-final game vs Alabama. Led by head coach Lincoln Riley, the Sooners must replace QB Kyler Murray, the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in April. That issue hurt a lot less this past January when graduate transfer QB Jalen Hurts announced he would transfer to Oklahoma. Hurts won the starting QB job in fall camp and was also named team captain. Hurts has the perfect skill set to run the Air Raid offense.
The career numbers for Hurts at Alabama speak for themselves:
- 24-2 as a starter at Alabama
- 5626 yards passing, 48 TD’s, 12 INT’s
- 1976 yards rushing, 23 TD’s
- 71 TD’s
The Sooners averaged 48 points per game, tops in the FBS. They gained 570 yards of total offense per game, while the defense allowed 453 yards per game.
Oklahoma returns their top 2 running backs, including Kennedy Brooks, who was a 1000 yard back in 2018. The Sooners also return experience and production at WR and TE. WR CeeDee Lamb returns coming off a season in which he caught 65 balls for 1158 yards and 11 TD’s. TE Grant Calcaterra is also back after hauling in 26 passes for 396 yards and 6 TD’s. However, Hurts will operate behind an offensive line that returns only 1 starter in C Creed Humphrey.
The Sooner defense will be coached by new DC Alex Grinch, the former DC at Ohio State last year and at Washington State from 2015-2017. Grinch is known for installing aggressive, ball-hawking defenses. Starters return in the secondary, on the defensive line, and at linebacker. And from a production standpoint, those starters combined for 285 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, and 15.5 sacks.
The Sooners are 23 point favorites in this game. It should be a high scoring game, but the Houston defense will be overwhelmed with all the offensive weapons that Oklahoma will deploy.
My pick to win: Oklahoma
Thanks for reading.
Material for this article sourced from: http://sports-reference.com