The Houston Cougars will kick off the new week of college football on Thursday night. According to ESPN, the UConn Huskies will travel to Houston, Texas, to face off against the sixth-ranked Cougars. The undefeated Cougars are coming into this game as the 24.5 point favorite. The game is set to be televised on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.
Last week, the Huskies lost to the Syracuse Orange. UConn lost that game 31-24. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs led the way for the Huskies. He threw for 264 yards and a touchdown. Shirreffs also had 27 yards rushing on 21 carries. Arkeel Newsome led the team in rushing with 81 yards and a touchdown. Noel Thomas led all the receivers with 111 yards on 14 receptions.
Houston is coming off a dominant victory over the Texas State Bobcats. The Cougars won that game 64-3. Greg Ward, Jr. led the way for Houston. He completed 20 passes on 26 attempts. Ward, Jr. threw for 289 yards to go with two touchdowns. He also had 39 yards on the ground and one touchdown. The Cougars spread the ball around to multiple players in the game.
The only loss Houston suffered last season was to the Huskies. The Cougars lost that game 20-17 in a tightly contested game. Wide receiver Noel Thomas led the way for UConn in that upset victory. The biggest difference coming into this game is that star quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. will be playing this time.
For the UConn Huskies to win this game, they will need Bryant Shirreffs to have an efficient game. He only got to throw one pass before he was injured in last year’s game against the Cougars. Shirreffs is also the second leading rusher for the Huskies.
Noel Thomas will play a big role for the Huskies. He is the leading receiver for the team. Thomas has caught 40 receptions out of Shirreffs’ 79 completion. The senior receiver has 388 yards and one touchdown this season.
Arkeel Newsome is another player that the Huskie will be depending on. Against Houston last season, Newsome had 32 carries on 114 yards. UConn is very dependent on Newsome and Thomas.
For the Cougars to win this game, they will need to continue playing great defense and for Heisman candidate Greg Ward, Jr. to continue playing at a high level. Houston has plenty of weapons surrounding Ward, Jr. this season. The senior quarterback has thrown for 936 yards to go with five touchdowns. Ward, Jr. has completed 65 percent of his passes. He has also rushed for 113 yards rushing to go with three touchdowns.
The Cougars have not been playing their starters too many minutes due to them beating down two out of their four opponents.
Running back Duke Catalon is the team’s leading rusher with 225 yards on 48 carries with one touchdown. The transfer from the University of Texas has been the Cougars’ go-to running back this year.
Houston has been spreading the ball around to several player in the passing game. They have two receivers with over 200 yards so far and a total of five players over a 100 yards. Linell Bonner leads the Cougars with 280 yards on 21 receptions.
The Houston Cougars are very talented on both sides of the ball. With Greg Ward, Jr. leading the way on the offensive end of the ball, they have one of the best offenses in the nation. Ward, Jr. is one of the better dual threat quarterbacks in college. Their defense could potentially shut out the UConn Huskies on Thursday night. The Huskies have not faced a team this talented yet this season. The Cougars have won 17 straight games with Ward, Jr. as the starting quarterback.
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