BYU looks to stave off Houston in Clash of the Cougars

by Daniel Olsen | Viral videos travel fast and sometimes align perfectly with sporting events. When a man in Slate Canyon near Provo filmed himself being stalked by a Cougar for six minutes, that became the perfect transition for the upcoming Friday night battle between the #14 ranked BYU Cougars and the Houston Cougars.

This wasn’t some random BYU fan or a woman in her late thirties stalking him as this parody suggests. He could have died but ultimately found away to scare off the wild mountain lion. This Friday night, it will be a catfight to behold. Which team will fold first?

This is a tough game to call because of the limited play we have seen from the Houston Cougars this season. They have already had their first three games get cancelled before finally opening the season with a 49-31 win over Tulane last week.

Tulane is no slouch either. They were 2-1 going into the game against Houston. That included a 66-24 scoring frenzy over Southern Miss and a close win over South Alabama. However, they did lose a close game to Navy who the BYU Cougars beat by 52 points.

After one game the Houston Cougars lead the BYU Cougars in scoring with 49 points per game. BYU was scoring around that clip until the down week with a close 27-20 win over UTSA last Saturday. BYU is now fifth in the nation with 43.8 points per game over a much larger sample size.

I expect no shortage of scoring out of this game. Both teams are capable of points on the board so I would be shocked if the winner had less than 30 points in this contest.

There will be plenty of defense to go around too. Of teams that have played, Houston and BYU are fourth and fifth in the nation respectively in rushing yards allowed. Again, BYU has impressed with maintaining this performance over the larger sample size.

If you’re looking for stars in this game, look no further than BYU quarterback Zach Wilson and his favorite target Gunner Romney. Wilson has thrown for the fourth most passing yards in the nation with 1,241 yards so far. He is only chasing ghosts at this point as he will have to pick up the pace to even make the top 10 in the BYU single season passing yards record.

Romney is a big reason for Wilson’s success as he is fourth in the nation with 453 receiving yards so far. His game last week against UTSA was the first game this season in which he failed to record over 100 receiving yards in a game. He will look to do some damage over a stout Houston secondary that allowed only 141 passing yards in their first outing.

Final Prediction: Like the viral Cougar video, I predict the Houston Cougars will be stalking the Cougars for much longer than six minutes. Houston will make a couple moves early and flash their teeth at BYU for nearly 60 minutes. However, once Wilson and his crew throws some stones back in the fourth quarter, it will be too much for Houston to continue their prowl for an upset.

BYU’s margin of victory has decreased from 52, to 41, to 31 to 7. BYU is still second in the nation in scoring margin with an average of 32.8 points more than their opponents. Only Air Force averages a larger margin with their 33 point win over Navy a couple weeks ago.

This is the last week for a while that I think the scoring margin could actually decrease for BYU. Look for a shootout that could possibly turn into a classic double overtime win for the Cougars that wear the royal blue. This will be the first road game for BYU since they beat Navy on Labor Day a month and a half ago.

Final Score: BYU Cougars 49 Houston Cougars 45

Slate Canyon Cougar 0

Photo courtesy Daily Herald

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