UCLA vs. Houston Prediction: College Football Picks for September 3rd 2011
UCLA vs. Houston
Prediction: Houston -2.5 (September 3rd 2011)
This is definitely a statement game for Houston after last year’s disappointment where it went 5-7 and ended their bowl streak at five consecutive years. Win this and they could be 10-0 going into its huge game against SMU as the schedule sets up very well. The offense once again takes center stage with the return of quarterback Case Keenum who was granted a sixth year of eligibility. This is a revenge game for the Cougars who lost at UCLA last year and also lost Keenum in that game.
UCLA comes into the new season with more questions than answers once again. First and foremost is at quarterback where Kevin Prince will get the start against Houston but Richard Brehaut has been promised he’ll play after a close competition this fall. Last season Prince went 42-for-94 for 384 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions in his five starts last year while Brehaut went 119-for-212 for 1,296 yards and six touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven starts and two other appearances.
Competition is good to get the best out of the two players but when they are average and not one of them was dominating, it shows that there are issues. Even worse is a change of the offensive scheme as the Bruins are going with a Pistol hybrid offense. To some degree a new offense can be good as it can leave the opposing defense helpless at what to plan for as little amount of weapons the Bruins have, it will not be that normal advantage here. UCLA finished 116th in the nation in passing offense a year ago.
Houston’s defense was pretty atrocious last season but it was the first year in the new 3-4 setup so the second go-around usually improves matters. The matchup last year was not a good one as the Bruins ran all over Houston as they rushed for 266 in last year’s meeting. The Cougars return six of the players from the front seven which will benefit in stopping the run. Only one starter in the secondary is back this year but again, it should not be a big issue as UCLA does not have the passing game to take advantage.
The Bruins were able to shut down Houston on offense last year but the Cougars top two quarterbacks went down so that was a given. Top target Patrick Edwards, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2009 and 2010 is back, as is Tyron Carrier, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2008 and 2009. Also back is 2009 Conference USA Freshman of the Year running back Charles Sims who had to sit out last season. As long as the offensive line can hold its own, Houston will be able to score at will and easily cover the short number. 3* (158) Houston Cougars
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