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|11-20-2015, 04:10 PM||#1|
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Cougars must get past UConn before Navy game means anything
No. 13 Houston has its sights set on winning the American Athletic Conference championship, completing an undefeated season and getting a New Year's Day Bowl bid.
But none of that will be possible if the Cougars don't first win Saturday at UConn (5-5, 3-3 American).
The Huskies are at home, coming off a bye week and needing one win to become bowl eligible for the first time since the 2010 season. Houston coach Tom Herman said he's told his team that this has all the makings of a trap game and to prepare accordingly.
"This is the part of the season where you don't take your foot off the gas, you put it down even harder," he said.
The Cougars come into the game with a big question at quarterback. Heisman hopeful Greg Ward Jr. rolled his left ankle against Memphis and is likely to be a game-time decision on Saturday.
Ward has thrown for 13 touchdowns and rushed for 16, leading an offense that averages almost 512 yards and 43.5 points a game.
Herman said if Ward is 100 percent healthy, he will play. If he's not, the coaches will have to decide whether to rest him and go with Kyle Postman, who completed 21 of 33 passes against Memphis and engineered the comeback win.
"Is Greg Ward with a 70 percent ankle better than Kyle Postman?* We'll have to make that decision if that's the case," Herman said.
UConn is simply looking to find any offensive production. UConn's defense scored the team's only points in a 7-3 win at Tulane before the bye week. The Huskies rank 113th out of 127 FBS teams in total offense, averaging just under 337 yards and 19 points a game.
They will be facing a defense that is giving up an average of just 20 points a game.
But the pressure on Saturday won't be on the Huskies, who won just two games a year ago and already have exceeded a lot of expectations this season.
"It's just so great for our football family to be at this point in November, talking about meaningful games," coach Bob Diaco said. "We've taken the next step in our program, which is exciting."
Here are some other things to watch for on Saturday:
Houston comes into the game leading the nation in turnover margin (plus-18), taking the ball away 27 times while losing it just nine times. UConn, though, has a ball-hawking defense that has come up with 15 interceptions this season, six of them from sophomore cornerback Jamar Summers, including one that he returned 67-yards for a touchdown against Tulane.
UConn has not fared well against ranked opponents, with just two wins in 25 previous games. The Huskies lost their only game against a ranked team this year, falling at then-No.22 Missouri, 9-3.
MARGIN OF VICTORY
Houston has been beating opponents by an average of 23.3 points a game and is one of just five teams in the FBS who have beaten at least six opponents by 21 points or more.
SENIOR DAY-YOUTH MOVEMENT
UConn will be honoring 16 seniors who will be playing their final home games for the Huskies. But just one senior, right guard Tyler Samra, starts for the UConn offense. The Huskies have five seniors starting on defense: end Kenton Adeyemi, tackle Julian Campeni, safety Andrew Adams and linebackers Graham Stewart and Marquise Vann.
Herman could be in for a raise if he decides to stay at Houston. The school's Board of Regents this week agreed to let the school's chancellor negotiate an amended contract for Herman, who is in his first year as head coach. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for several other head coaching jobs across the country.
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