Houston Cougars 2023 College Football Preview

Houston Cougars 2023 College Football Preview

July 17, 2023

2022 Recap

Record – 8-5

ATS – 4-8-1

The Cougars went into the campaign with expectations of an AAC title, or at the very least, getting a seat at the final table. An early home blowout loss to Kansas (L 48-30) was a HARBINGER of disappointment to come as just two weeks later, Houston lost at home to Tulane and their back-up QB (L 27-24 OT). They lost another pair of conference games and even managed to give up an impossible 77 (!) points in one of those contests (SMU). At least the boys managed to end the year on a high note by taking down Louisiana in the Independence Bowl.

Houston Cougars 2023 Outlook


Houston didn’t have much trouble SCORING the FOOTBALL last year as they averaged 36 PPG (#2 AAC) and ranked #2 in the conference in passing offense (314 YPG). There are a lot of changes to report this season so let’s get into it. It’s gonna be tough to replace their 4,000-yard (!) QB Clayton Tune (40-10 TD to INT) but they did the best they could be snagging former Texas Tech QB Donovan Smith (career 19-10 TD to INT, 10 rush TD). Losing their top-two WRs isn’t ideal, especially All-Universe specimen Tank Dell (1,398, 17 TD) who’s off to the NFL, but Matthew Golden is a good piece to build around (584, 15.4, 7 TD), and they added several bodies to the WR/TE mix via the transfer portal. They’re set at RB with the return of their top-two options and add Tony Mathis from WVU, The rushing attack will work well behind an offensive line that returns three starters including 1st Team AAC honoree LT Patrick Paul. They also added a lot of depth up front thru the portal. They’re not gonna score close to 36 PPG but they’ll be more balanced and Smith has interesting upside.


Yikes. The Cougars defensive performance LY took a HUGE DUMP as they allowed 32 PPG (#8 AAC) just one year after allowing a mere 20 PPG (#2). Things look sketchy heading into this season as they lose eight of their top-nine (!) tacklers and the top-two sack producers. All this whilst moving up in class to the mighty Big 12. The good news is that the DL looks fine with the return of three starters and they made a yuuuge addition to the group in former Oklahoma Sooner David Ugwoegbu who’ll start at DE (110 tackles, 7.5 TFL LY). The back seven doesn’t look that great on paper but at least they added some talented bodies in the secondary including a pair that should earn starting roles (CB Fleming, ECU; FS Haulcy, Lobos). We’re most concerned about the apparent lack of PENETRATORS and that’s not a good thing when facing the offenses that populate the Big 12.


RUH ROH. The Cougars lose a pair of men that booked return TDs LY (Dell, Rogers) and they’ll need to work in a new PK. Thankfully, Laine Wilkins is a reliable punter (43.7).

Schedule Analysis

Overall – The non-conference schedule is very favorable with the toughest match-up being a season-opening home date with UTSA. The set of Big 12 assignments isn’t bad either as they miss Oklahoma and get to play TCU at home.

Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Rice (Sept 9)

The Owls are gonna be an improved PARLIAMENT ** and they’d love to take down an in-state foe that might have a superiority complex. Also note that the Big 12 opener is on deck (TCU at home).

** A group of owls is called a ‘parliament’. Apparently, the ancient Greeks considered owls to be very wise, hence the reference. In 2023, it’s now apparent that comparing owls in any way to ‘parliament’ is an insult to the wisdom of our feathered friends.

Season Win Total

Market consensus July 17

Over 4.5 -140

Under 4.5 +110


Lean: Over

Slight LEANAGE to the ‘over’ based on the schedule. They’ll win at least two non-conference games and the lower half of the Big 12 is nothing special, so three more wins doesn’t seem like an impossibility.

MEGAmazing Tidbits

DEGENERATE NATION take note. Houston is 15-5-1 ATS in the role of road underdog and 8-4 under current HC Dana Holgorsen.

Houston is the 4th most populous city in North America behind NYC, LA, and Chicago. It features all the rampant crime, pollution, and delights of Communism that those other big cities offer, but it’s real charm comes from the swampy humid weather, man-eating mosquitos, and brown drinking water.


Welcome to the BIG TIME, yo.

Houston is a solid addition to the Big 12 as they’ll eventually grab enough talent to stay competitive and play an exciting brand of football. The problem is that it may take a year or two for them to get acclimated to the rise in class. We’ll call for five wins but don’t think it’s impossible to get to six wins and bowl eligibility. Go COOGS!