FACTS & STATS: Site: Reliant Stadium (71,500) -- Houston, Texas. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: BYU 3-1, Houston 2-0. Away Record: BYU 1-1, Houston 2-0. Neutral Record: BYU 0-0, Houston 1-0. Conference Record: BYU 0-0, Houston 2-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Houston Cougars try to keep their unblemished record intact this weekend as they entertain the Cougars of BYU at Reliant Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the two schools on the football field.
One of only 14 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision still undefeated at this point in the campaign, Houston is the only school that is not nationally- ranked, currently receiving a mere three votes in the most recent Associated Press poll. The problem for these Cougars is that the competition thus far has not been all that tough, the latest victim being fellow American Athletic Conference foe Memphis last weekend, 25-15.
BYU's own Cougars are currently tied for the best overall record among the nation's Independents with Notre Dame, thanks to three straight wins and four victories in the last five outings. Last Saturday, BYU hosted Georgia Tech and easily handled the Yellow Jackets in a 38-20 final in Provo.
Taysom Hill threw for one touchdown and ran for another as BYU captured a convincing 18-point victory over the Yellow Jackets in non-conference action at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Hill converted 19-of-27 passes for 244 yards and survived three sacks, while also producing a game-high 87 yards rushing on 12 carries for the Cougars as they notched their third win in a row and the fourth in the last five outings overall.
Cody Hoffman, who caught five passes for a game-high 99 yards and a score, is now tied with Dennis Pitta for the career lead in receptions for BYU with 221.
Georgia Tech was the 12th straight opponent that the Cougars have held to 21 points or less. BYU secured the comfortable win despite controlling the ball for just over 23 minutes on the night and giving up 400 yards of total offense to the Yellow Jackets.
On the season, BYU is permitting 346.5 ypg to the competition, which ranks it 25th in the nation. Better still, the squad has been locking down on scoring opportunities by those teams, giving up only 17.3 ppg, which is tied for 15th.
Hill may not be the most efficient quarterback in terms of passing, with his .471 completion percentage and five interceptions against five touchdowns through the air, but there is no denying that his running ability brings another dimension to the BYU offense. One of the most dangerous runners in the country, Hill leads the team with 644 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 7.2 yards per carry.
But as good as Hill might be when he breaks out of the pocket, there are still some aspects of the offense that can be greatly improved moving forward, most notably the group's third-down conversion rate which currently stands at just 34.0 percent, ranking the group 95th in the nation.
Houston's offense struggled for sure against Memphis, producing a mere 247 net yards on 61 snaps, but at the same time the defense played huge for the Cougars as they limited the Tigers to just five field goals. A major positive for Houston was the five forced fumbles it produced, the team recovering four of them.
Derrick Mathews, who finished second on the unit with 10 tackles, had two fumble recoveries and one forced for a Houston squad which has notched multiple turnovers in 13 straight games.
John O'Korn converted only 13-of-30 passes for 198 yards, but one of those completions did make it into the end zone to Daniel Spencer on a 17-yard effort. Running back Kenneth Farrow accounted for a pair of rushing touchdowns, yet gained just 33 net yards on 15 attempts. The team as a whole came up with a woeful 38 rushing yards on 29 carries.
O'Korn is a true freshman quarterback who is now 3-0 in as many starts for the Cougars this season. The signal caller has completed close to 60 percent of his pass attempts overall, leading to 11 touchdowns and just a single interception. Deontay Greenberry stands as his favorite target with 39 catches for 606 yards and three TDs, although Spencer does lead the program with four receiving scores on only 18 receptions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 35, Houston 14
Saturday, October 19, 3:30 p.m. (et).