BYU/Houston Game Day: National Stage Awaits All-Cougar Matchup

Oct 16, 2020, 8:55 AM | Updated: Oct 19, 2020, 1:06 am

HOUSTON, Texas – A lot is on the line No. 14 BYU and Houston kick off tonight here in Texas. Both teams enter the game looking to make a statement on a national stage and earn a signature that could lead to more respect.

On the line for BYU…

BYU’s “new normal” schedule in 2020 after all of the changes from COVID leaves the Cougars with few opportunities for signature wins in its quest to earn an at-large New Year’s Six bowl bid. Houston, one of the original opponents on BYU’s 2020 schedule, fits that billing. The Coogs come into the game feeling confident after dominating Tulane for the final three-quarters of their season opener last week.

BYU is looking to move to 5-0 for the first time since 2008 and only the sixth time in program history. The previous five seasons where BYU started 5-0 were 2008, 2001, 1984, 1981, and 1979.

For BYU to have any hopes of making it to a big bowl game this year, they will need to go undefeated. A win over Houston would put BYU in a great spot to potentially be undefeated heading into a showdown with Boise State in a few weeks.

On the line for Houston…

Respect. The Coogs are looking to earn a signature win for head coach Dana Holgorsen. Last year, Houston ended up redshirting a bunch of upperclassmen during a 4-8 season, leading many to wonder if the former West Virginia coach tanked in his first year in H-Town.

According to the USA Today coaching salary database, Houston is all-in on Holgorsen, paying him $3.61 million. The most money for a Group of 5 head coach. They want a signature win over a nationally-ranked BYU team to start getting a return on the investment.

BYU/Houston: What To Watch For

When BYU has the ball, look for the Cougars in blue to establish the run early with running back Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier is quietly garnering some buzz from the NFL, and he’s earned it. The redshirt sophomore who looks up to Marshawn Lynch has been in “Beastmode” for BYU this season, rushing for a team-high 391 yards.

But all eyes on BYU’s offense will be locked in on Zach Wilson, who enters the game No. 1 nationally in completion percentage at 81 percent. If the hype about putting Wilson in the Heisman race is real, he could kick it into overdrive with a great performance against a Houston defense that enters the game No. 1 in the country for total defense.

Defensively, BYU has had success in the past taking on Air Raid offenses by dropping eight personnel. Houston, like BYU, will look to put out a balanced offensive attack.

On special teams, kicker Jake Oldroyd returns for BYU after missing last week due to a minor injury.

BYU/Houston: Final Score Prediction

BYU 45, Houston 35

Both teams are going to put up some points. It has the makings for a classic weeknight showdown like the BYU-San Diego State games of years gone by.

BYU’s secondary gave up some big plays through the air last week against UTSA and now they face their toughest test yet in No. 5 Marquez Stevenson, who could be one of the most electrifying players college football has to offer.

But on the flip side, BYU’s offense is going to put up numbers on Houston. Watch for Wilson to stretch the field with Biletnikoff Watch List candidate Gunner Romney, who has one of the best yards per catch averages in college football this year at 22.6 per grab.

Houston will make a big leap from game one to game two. Still, BYU should be in mid-season form. It results in the Cougars donning the white jerseys and blue pants coming away with a huge victory that keeps them in the national conversation of an unprecedented 2020 college football season.

Follow Mitch Harper on location in Houston for BYU vs. Houston on the KSL Sports Instagram. You can also follow Mitch on Twitter.

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BYU/Houston Game Day: National Stage Awaits All-Cougar Matchup