No. 14 BYU chases rare 5-0 start vs. Houston
BYU looks to notch its first 5-0 start since 2008 when it visits Houston in a nonconference battle between programs nicknamed Cougars on Friday night.
No. 14 BYU has played a light schedule in which it won its first three games by an average of 41.3 points before sliding past visiting UTSA 27-20 on Saturday.
The close encounter could be beneficial, according to BYU coach Kalani Sitake.
“If there is any silver lining to this, it’s that we were able to be uncomfortable a little bit,” Sitake said. “I told the team that we’d been in this position before and lost these type of games. It felt good to get this win. It feels good to be 4-0 and learn from this. I think we’ll perform a lot better next time.”
Houston (1-0) was just happy to see the field on Oct. 8 as it opened its season with a 49-31 home win over Tulane in American Athletic Conference play.
The delayed start was due to contests against Washington State, Rice, Baylor and North Texas being canceled due to various COVID-19 reasons, while a game with Memphis was postponed and rescheduled for Dec. 5.
Houston was predictably rusty in the win over Tulane as it committed four of its five turnovers in the first half before recovering from a 24-7 deficit to prevail.
Now the team has to figure out how to slow BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson, who has accounted for 14 touchdowns (eight passing, six rushing). Wilson has completed an eye-popping 81.2 percent of his passes for 1,241 yards and has been intercepted just once.
Sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier also is performing well with 391 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 7.4 yards per carry and has topped 100 yards twice.
BYU’s offense has been proficient, ranking fifth in total offense (556.8 yards per game) and sixth in scoring (43.8 points per game). But the defense has been superb as well, rating fourth in both total defense (250.5) and scoring defense (11.0).
Houston star receiver/returner Marquez Stevenson got his season off to a strong start with five receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown against Tulane. It was the ninth career 100-yard outing for the senior.
Stevenson also returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, marking the third kick return score of his career.
“It means a lot to him,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said of Stevenson. “He’s been around here for a long time. He’s going to get his degree here in the next couple of months. He’s going to make a lot of plays for us over the course of the season and then he’s going to go play in the NFL.”
Houston junior quarterback Clayton Tune passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns and also was intercepted twice versus Tulane.
Houston senior defensive end Payton Turner also stood out against Tulane with 4.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks.
BYU’s defense is led by senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi and sophomore middle linebacker Keenan Pili, who share the team lead with 24 tackles.
BYU won both previous meetings, a 47-46 win in Houston in 2013 and a 33-25 triumph in Provo, Utah, the following year.
–Field Level Media