Preview: Connecticut at Houston

When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, September 29, 2016
Where: TDECU Stadium, Houston, Texas


Seventh-ranked Houston gets a chance to avenge its only loss from last year when it hosts Connecticut in an American Athletic Conference game Thursday night. Both starting quarterbacks missed the majority of last year's meeting - a 20-17 UConn home victory- but return healthy for the rematch.

Houston's Greg Ward Jr., who didn't play at UConn because of an ankle injury until backup Kyle Postma was injured late in the fourth quarter, has won 17 straight as the Cougars' starter. The Cougars, looking to begin 5-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history, recorded at least 40 points and 500 total yards in three straight games. Bryant Shirreffs, who left last year's game with a concussion on the second series, helped the Huskies overcome slow starts in all four games. UConn has been outscored 31-0 in the first quarter this season before having all four games decided by seven or fewer points.


TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Houston -27.5

ABOUT CONNECTICUT (2-2, 0-1 AAC): Shirreffs threw for 819 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for another score. Noel Thomas Jr. (40 receptions, 388 yards, one TD) has nearly half of UConn's catches (81) and receiving yards (861) after a 14-catch performance against Syracuse. The Huskies were stopped at the goal line in losses to Navy (as time expired) and Syracuse (late in the fourth quarter), and got late game-winning field goals from Bobby Puyol (5-of-5 in field goals and 10-of-10 on extra points) in their two wins.

ABOUT HOUSTON (4-0, 1-0): Ward (936 passing yards, five touchdowns and 113 rushing yards, three TDs) leads a balanced offense that's averaging 44.8 points. Senior linebacker Steven Taylor (tied for second nationally with 5.5 total sacks) leads a unit that is ranked first in the nation in rushing defense (37 yards), fourth in scoring defense (10.5 points) and fifth in total defense (228.8 yards). The Cougars held six straight opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards, including three straight (Texas State, 33; Cincinnati, 30; Lamar, 15) to 33 or fewer.

EXTRA POINTS

1. UConn lost six turnovers (four fumbles, two interceptions) with three (two fumbles and an interception by Shirreffs) returned for touchdowns.

2. Houston CB Brandon Wilson (lower leg) and RB Mulbah Car (knee) will miss the game with injuries.

3. Houston (1.45) is the only team in the country holding opponents to fewer than 1.5 yards per rush.

PREDICTION: Houston 42, Connecticut 13

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Connecticut 2-2 L1 21.2 22.5 2-1 0-1 2-1 0-0 0-1
Houston 4-0 W4 44.8 10.5 2-0 2-0 1-0 1-0 1-0

Last Meeting

Connecticut Houston
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/21/15 HOU 17 CONN 20 315 156 159 318 110 208

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
CONN T. Boyle 54.5 110 0 0
HOU K. Postma 59.3 190 1 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
CONN A. Newsome 32 114 3.6 0
HOU K. Postma 13 52 4.0 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
CONN N. Thomas 7 108 15.4 2
HOU C. Allen 6 105 17.5 1
TDs Player TD
CONN N. Thomas 2
HOU C. Allen 1
Season
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
CONN B. Shirreffs 66.9 819 2 2
HOU G. Ward Jr. 65.7 936 5 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
CONN A. Newsome 52 211 4.1 2
HOU D. Catalon 48 225 4.7 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
CONN N. Thomas 40 388 9.7 1
HOU L. Bonner 21 280 13.3 1
TDs Player TD
CONN R. Johnson 4
HOU K. Postma 4

Quickchart Matchup

Connecticut Off vs  Houston Def
354.5 yards
228.8 yards
3.3 yards/rush
1.5 yards/rush
7.2 yards/attempt
6.4 yards/attempt
Houston Off vs  Connecticut Def
497.5 yards
381 yards
4.1 yards/rush
3.8 yards/rush
8.2 yards/attempt
8.4 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Connecticut Overall Houston
2-2-0 W/L 4-0-0
0-3-1 ATS 3-1-0
2-2-0 O/U 1-3-0
21.2 Pts For 44.8
22.5 Pts Against 10.5
Connecticut A/H Houston
0-1 W/L 2-0
0-1-0 ATS 1-1-0
1-0-0 O/U 0-2-0
24.0 Pts For 37.5
28.0 Pts Against 11.5