2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Houston at North Texas
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Sept. 10 Houston 48 … at North Texas 23
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) DENTON, Texas -- Case Keenum threw for 398 yards with five touchdowns, three in a nine-minute span of the third quarter when the Houston Cougars finally broke away in a 48-23 victory Saturday night to spoil North Texas' first game in its new stadium.
Houston (2-0) led only 20-17 at the break over North Texas (0-2), which has won only 10 games the past six-plus seasons.
Keenum emerged strong after halftime, throwing TD passes of 32 and 17 yards to Justin Johnson on the Cougars' first two drives of the second half, then hit Patrick Edwards for a 46-yard score on the next one to stretch the lead to 41-17. Keenum finished 23-of-36 passing.
North Texas played its first home game under new coach Dan McCarney.
Keenum, given a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after his early season-ending knee injury last year, has already thrown for 708 yards and seven TDs.
Get Tickets For This Game
Houston (1-0) at North Texas (0-1) Sept. 10, 7:00, ESPN3.com
Here’s The Deal … Case Keenum is back in the saddle after missing most of 2010 to a knee injury. And Houston is once again on the map. In one fell swoop, the Cougars returned their record-setting quarterback and exacted a little revenge on UCLA, 38-24, for last September’s defeat. After slumping to 5-7 a year ago, the program is relevant again, and rather capable of motoring through a schedule that doesn’t feature a single ranked team left on it.
The North Texas rebuilding plan under first-year head coach Dan McCarney began in earnest last week with a telling 41-16 Sun Belt Conference loss at the hands of Florida International. McCarney took this job knowing how much work is needed to reverse the trend at a school that hasn’t played a postseason game in seven. The Mean Green plans to lean heavily on youth, hoping that it’ll pay dividends as the 2011 season unfolds.
Why Houston Might Win: Keenum is the catalyst, but the Cougars offense is far more than just a single triggerman. The attack is bubbling over with exciting playmakers, such as backs Bryce Beall, Charles Sims and Michael Hayes, and receivers Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards. The Mean Green is not particularly ornery on defense, a recipe for headaches when Houston is on its way to Denton. If, as expected, the game becomes a track meet, North Texas is ill-equipped to manufacture much through the air. Inexperienced QB Derek Thompson has a steep learning curve that’ll take time to flatten.
Why North Texas Might Win: The Mean Green isn’t likely to halt the Houston offense or get its own passing game humming, which leaves RB Lance Dunbar to fuel the attack. The senior has proven in the past that he can carry a program on his shoulders. He’s a prolific back who can motor through the toothless Houston defense, and keep the Cougars offense pacing on the sidelines. Dunbar will be particularly motivated to get back on track after being uncharacteristically bottled up and held to 43 yards on 18 carries by Florida International.
What To Watch Out For: As long as Keenum is healthy, Houston’s offense will be difficult to stop. If the Cougars are serious about running the table, though, they’ll need to evolve defensively, a real bugaboo for this program. Hope comes from a corps of linebackers that covers the field like a collection of safeties. By the end of the game, Dunbar is going to know the social security numbers of Houston’s Sammy Brown, Marcus McGraw and Phillip Steward.
What Will Happen: Although a letdown from the UCLA win is possible for Houston, whatever hangover its feeling will be erased by a serious edge in talent. The Cougars are actually looking to sharpen the offensive attack behind Keenum, which is sobering news for North Texas. After starting slowly, the Cougars will take flight in the second quarter, running circles around an overmatched Mean Green defense.
CFN Prediction: Houston 44 … North Texas 17
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Houston -21.5 O/U: 63.5
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