Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are the Hosuton Cougars Poised to Break Into the Top 25 after Playing UTEP?

(Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loco Photography, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved)

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2011 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 27, 2011) The Houston Cougars (4-0) will head for west Texas for their next game as face the UTEP Miners (2-2) in a rare Thursday evening game at the Sun Bowl.

Thursday’s game marks the ninth game between the two teams and the rubber match in the series with each team winning four games.

Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin is 2-1 against UTEP in his three previous meetings, while UTEP head coach Mike Price is 2-6 vs. Houston.

Previously, Sumlin and Price served together on the coach staff at Washington State, where Sumlin was a graduate assistant under Price.

There are other ties between the schools as UH Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades was the executive senior associate athletic director at UTEP for seven years from 2000-06.

This Thursday’s game will be the fifth for senior quarterback Case Keenum against UTEP. In those four games, Keenum has completed 70.2 percent of his throws on 120-for-171 passing.

He has totaled 1,311 yards and nine touchdowns. Twice he has topped the 400-yard passing mark with 536 yards in 2009.

In last season’s game versus the Miners, Keenum suffered a mild concussion and left the game in the third quarter with 279 passing yards, but it snapped his 31-game touchdown pass streak.

The first meeting between the schools was on Oct. 26, 1946, which saw the Miners beating the Cougars 21-7.

Last year, Houston came out in top 54-24.

This season, the Cougars are ranked first in C-USA in total offense per game (595.8 yards), first in points scores per game (44.3 points), fourth points allowed per game (22.8) and sixth in total defense (400.5 yards).

The Miners best ranking is fifth in points allowed per game (22.8).

Baring any unforeseen issues, the Cougars should have little trouble raising their season record to 5-0 on by beating the Miners by at least three touchdowns.

However, the defense must continue to improve and contain a Miner offense that can come alive at any time.

If the Cougars indeed dispatch the Miners by a large margin, I foresee a possible move into the Top 25 next week.

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