CFB Thursday Preview
Houston (2-0) vs Cincinnati (2-0)
No. 7 Houston will be back at full strength on offense when it tries to win at Cincinnati for the first time since 1971 on Thursday night. Heisman Trophy-candidate Greg Ward Jr. (shoulder) and running back Duke Catalon (ankle) were held out of last week’s dominating victory over Lamar so that they’d be ready for Thursday’s American Athletic Conference opener. Join this CFB game, play it here.
This game will be Cincinnati’s defense first real challenge this year. They were ranked 124th in turnover margin last year. The Bearcats scored 35 points off the 8 turnovers they’ve forced. They give their inexperienced offense much needed support. Coach Tom Herman called his D-squad the “backbone of his team” on Monday. Sophomore quarterback Hayden Moore (510 passing yards, five TDs, one INT, 71 rushing yards and two TDs) was responsible for five scores in a road win at Purdue last week. Nate Cole (12 catches, 145 yards, three TDs) and Devin Gray (nine catches, 167 yards) heads a new group of receivers after the Bearcats graduated six senior receivers. Linebacker Eric Wilson leads the AAC with 24 total tackles. Cincinnati ranks second in the league with 13.5 points allowed.
The Cougars are no slouch in defense either. They lead the AAC in total defense (233 yards), scoring defense (11.5 points), sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (20). Houston held their last four opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing. Greg Ward will return to the lineup after sitting out one game. In the team’s season opener against Oklahoma, he threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Duke Catalon added 88 rushing yards in that matchup. Kevrin Justice (111 yards, two TDs), Mulbah Car (109 yards, TD) and quarterback Kyle Postma (106 yards, two TDs) all rushed for more than 100 yards versus Lamar. Linebacker Steven Taylor leads the league with 3.5 sacks. Freshman lineman Ed Oliver collected 10 tackles, two sacks and 4.5 tackles. The Cougars have won 16 of their past 17 games.