Coming off a 38-3 rivalry win against Rice, the Houston Cougars will be looking to continue their hot start to the season against Big 12 opponent Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will be Houston’s final non-conference opponent of the season with the matchup scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday at TCDEU Stadium.
The two teams last faced off in 2010 when current Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury was the quarterbacks coach for Houston. Kingbury was on Houston’s coaching staff for four seasons before joining Texas A&M’s staff as offensive coordinator.
The Cougars and Red Raiders have met a total of 30 times. Houston owns the series with a record of 18-11-1.
The game carries a lot of weight for both coaches as Kliff Kingsbury is feeling some heat after going 5-7 last season and not having a bowl win since 2013. For Houston, Major Applewhite looks to put another convincing non-conference win on Houston’s resume after a close win against Arizona in the Cougars’ season opener.
The focus for Houston will be handling Tech’s renowned Air Raid offense. Fifth-year senior quarterback Nic Shimonek wasted no time this season stepping in for Patrick Mahomes, throwing for nine touchdowns with a 79 percent completion ratio and no interceptions. He’s just shy of a thousand passig yards coming into this week’s game.
Largely thanks to this output, Tech has posted 108 points through the first two weeks of the season.
The good news for Houston in all of that is that the Cougars’ defense has stood strong so far, holding Rice to a fourth-quarter field goal and limiting Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez’s typical high-production offense to just 16 points.
Houston quarterback Kyle Allen is looking to prove his two-interception performance against Arizona was an anomaly and the Rice game is more of what fans should expewct from him the reast of the season. Against the Owls, Allen was 31-for-33 for 309 yards and two touchdowns and he didn’t turn the ball over once.
Allen’s rebound could continue against the Red Raiders as their total defense is currently ranked 73rd in the country a season after finishing second-to-last in the Big 12. Tech’s red zone defense is ranked as 111th in the nation. A bright spot for Tech is its run defense, where they currently sit at 48th in the country. That will prove especially important as running backs Duke Catalon and Mulbah Car both averaged over 4 yards per carry against Rice last week.
Senior receiver Linnel Bonner will also look to take advantage of a weak Tech secondary after his 10-catch, 132-yard performance against the Owls.
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver and linebacker Matthew Adams will be players to watch. Oliver, a Freshman All-American last year, has 2.5 tackles-for-loss while Adams currently leads the team with 19 tackles.
Ultimately it will come down to if the Cougars defense can stop a formidable Texas Tech offense and should that fail, will Kyle Allen and Houston’s all-around offense be able to stop them?
The performance against Rice on both sides of the ball is a confidence-booster to both sides of the ball for the Cougars and it will remain to be seen if that continues against Texas Tech.