Preview: Houston at San Diego State

When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 17, 2016
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada


1. Houston interim coach Todd Orlando guides the Cougars into the Las Vegas Bowl matchup with San Diego State on Dec. 17 after Tom Herman departed to become Texas coach. Houston has never won bowl games in three consecutive seasons so the current group has plenty to play for against the Aztecs. San Diego State is attempting to match the school mark for victories and is participating in a bowl for the seventh straight season, the longest streak in school history.

2. San Diego State senior running back Donnel Pumphrey (6,290 yards) sits 108 yards away from surpassing Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (6,397) as the all-time leading career rusher in FBS history. Moving past Dayne doesn't come without controversy for Pumphrey as the NCAA didn't recognize bowl statistics during Dayne's career from 1996-99, otherwise Dayne's yardage total is 7,125. Pumphrey rushed for 2,018 yards in the regular season but figures to be tested by the Cougars, who rank third nationally in rushing defense (97.9 yards per game) and allow just 2.9 yards per carry.

3. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is playing the final game of his spectacular career and ranks fifth in school history in both passing touchdowns (52) and passing yardage (8,476). Ward accounted for 31 touchdowns (22 passing, nine rushing) this season while throwing for 3,328 yards and rushing for 518. His health is something to watch as Ward has been dealing with shoulder soreness for most of the campaign but leg soreness could have an effect as well on a player who has 38 career rushing touchdowns.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Houston -3.

ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (10-3, 6-2 Mountain West): The Aztecs have won 11 games three times in their history and this year's squad is a run-based team that relies on Pumphrey and junior Rashaad Penny (995 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns). Pumphrey rushed for 16 touchdowns while shattering numerous records held by school legend Marshall Faulk and Penny averaged 7.9 yards per carry running the ball as well as averaging 31.9 yards and scoring two touchdowns on kickoff returns. Sophomore quarterback Christian Chapman (19 touchdowns, six interceptions) isn't asked to do a lot in passing game and San Diego State rides a sturdy defense led by senior cornerback Damontae Kazee (seven interceptions this season, school-record 17 in his career) and senior outside linebacker Calvin Munson (team-best 108 tackles).

ABOUT HOUSTON (9-3, 5-3 American Athletic Conference): Ward fuels an attack that averages 38 points per game and junior receiver Linell Bonner caught 93 passes for 1,076 yards but only found the end zone three times. The Cougars' best player is freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who posted 19 1/2 tackles for losses (including five sacks) but he could be hampered in the bowl game by a balky knee. Sophomore cornerback Howard Wilson intercepted a team-best five passes while senior outside linebacker Steven Taylor had a team-best 72 tackles for the unit run by Orlando, who is hoping to land the full-time head-coaching gig after recently interviewing for the post.

PREDICTION: Houston 47, San Diego State 45

Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Houston 9-3 L1 38.0 22.6 7-0 2-3 1-0 6-0 5-3
San Diego State 10-3 W1 35.3 21.0 5-1 5-2 5-1 1-1 7-2

Last Meeting

Houston San Diego State
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No Previous Meeting.

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
TDs Player TD
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
HOU G. Ward Jr. 67.6 3328 22 9
SDSU C. Chapman 60.3 1866 19 6
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
HOU G. Ward Jr. 175 518 3.0 9
SDSU D. Pumphrey 330 2018 6.1 16
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
HOU L. Bonner 93 1076 11.6 3
SDSU M. Holder 26 569 21.9 5
TDs Player TD
HOU G. Ward Jr. 9
SDSU R. Penny 16

Quickchart Matchup

Houston Off vs  San Diego State Def
459.2 yards
320.8 yards
3.6 yards/rush
3.3 yards/rush
7.4 yards/attempt
6.6 yards/attempt
San Diego State Off vs  Houston Def
419.1 yards
325 yards
5.9 yards/rush
2.9 yards/rush
7.8 yards/attempt
6.7 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Houston Overall San Diego State
9-3-0 W/L 10-3-0
5-7-0 ATS 6-6-1
5-7-0 O/U 8-5-0
38.0 Pts For 35.3
22.6 Pts Against 21.0
Houston A/H San Diego State
2-3 W/L 5-1
2-3-0 ATS 3-2-1
3-2-0 O/U 3-3-0
40.8 Pts For 38.3
30.2 Pts Against 18.8