Houston Cougars 2022 College Football Preview
July 9, 2022
Record – 12-2
ATS – 8-6
That was quite the ride, yo.
Houston dropped their opener to Texas Tech, a game in which they led at one point by 2 TDs, and then proceeded to go on a magical HEEETER and win 11 games in a row. The Cougars didn’t exactly face a MUDERERS ROW of opponents but it’s always a significant accomplishment for anyone to win that many consecutive games. They took on the mighty Cincinnati Bearcats in the AAC title game and fell by a score of 35-20 but kept their chins up and defeated SEC (!) foe Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl (W 17-13).
Houston Cougars 2022 Outlook
It was a good news, bad news situation for Houston LY as they struggled on the ground (#86 FBS, 142 YPG) but did good things with the THROW GAME (#23, 272 YPG). QB Clayton Tune had a great 2021 campaign (30-10 TD to INT, 68%) and comes into his senior year full of confidence. Houston lost some WR depth but still boast one of the best WRs in college football in Tank Dell (90, 1,329, 14.8, 12 TD LY) and note that they added a number of talented transfers to the mix. The Cougars offense took a blow with the ACL injury to #1 RB Alton McCaskill in the spring (961, 16 TD) and will rely on Ta’Zhawn Henry to carry more of the load. The OL suffered some significant attrition including their fine center Kody Russey and are much less experienced than they were in 2021. Houston put up 36 PPG LY and we think they’ll be hard-pressed to reach that level of productivity this season.
Houston was just flat out NASTY on defense last year in almost every key metric. They were #6 in the FBS in total defense (301 YPG), strong vs the run (#10, 107 YPG), stingy vs the pass (#14 pass efficiency D), a brick wall on 3rd downs (#1, 25.7%), and MASTERS of PENETRATION (43 sacks, T6). There’s reason for at least a bit of concern heading into 2022 as the Cougars return six starters on defense and lose their excellent CB duo (Williams, Jones) who are both off to dominate in the NFL. They still look stout up front and return a fine pass rushing duo in D’Anthony Jones and Derek Parish (combined 12.5 sacks LY) and leading tackler Donavan Mutin is back at MLB. They have a pair of experienced safeties but will greatly miss the aforementioned CB duo. We expect to see a very good, but not great defense like the 2021 version.
Houston has fared very well L3Y in the Phil Steele special teams ratings (#28, #15, #3) but suffer a pair of yuuuge losses in PK Dalton Witherspoon and PR Marcus Jones who had a PAIR of TDs in 2021.
Overall – Yes, guy. They somehow, someway, miss both UCF and Cincinnati in conference play and the non-conference docket is very manageable.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – November 19 – at East Carolina
This will be Houston’s 3rd road test in five weeks and East Carolina is gonna give most teams fits this year.
Season Win Total
per BetOnline July 9
Over 9 -130
Under 9 +100
That looks about right according to our DEEP AAC INSIDERS. The roster isn’t as strong as LY but the schedule is BUTTERY SOFT.
Houston boasts a winning record over every current AAC school with the exception of UCF (3-7).
The last head coach to leave Houston with a losing record (other than the legendary Chris Thurmond who had a mark of 0-1) is Dana Dimel who put together a less-than-sparkling record of 8-26 (.235). Amaze the next 340-POUND PSYCHOTIC PURPLE-HAIRED KAREN you see with that trivia nugget.
The Cougars were finally able to flash potential last season in year three of the Dana Holgorsen experiment. They’ve got a great shot to get back to the conference title game given the way the schedule sets up but we still rank them a notch below Cincinnati and UCF from a power rating point of view. They’ll be right in the thick of things heading into November and just might find their way back to playing for all the AAC marbles.
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