Week 8 - Houston-BYU & Rice-NMSU

Posted Oct 18, 2013

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Houston at BYU and Rice at New Mexico State

USC at Notre Dame | Toledo at Navy, Army at Temple
- Houston at BYU and Rice at New Mexico State

BYU (4-2) at Houston (5-0) Oct. 19, 3:30, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: One of the sneaky-good matchups of Week 8 pits BYU versus Houston for the first-ever meeting between the schools. Houston is one of the nation's 14 remaining unbeaten teams, but what do we really know about them? The Cougars have built a spotless mark on the back of a flimsy schedule that features no one tougher than Rice. A win this weekend will help validate Houston's first half, while giving it a springboard into the resumption of the American schedule. BYU has regrouped from a 1-2 start to win three straight games, including last week over Georgia Tech, 38-20. The Cougars want to build a head of steam before playing marquee second-half games next month with Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

Why BYU Might Win: The visiting Cougars are battle-tested, having already faced Texas, Utah and Georgia Tech. The host? Not so much. BYU is going to be the more physical team on both sides of the ball. It'll run the ball down the throat of a suspect Houston defense, using QB Taysom Hill and RB Jamaal Williams. The fact that Hill has thrown the ball better over the last two weeks is going to prevent the Cougars from pressing up to slow down the running game.

Why Houston Might Win: A week after preparing for the triple-option of Georgia Tech, BYU must now brace for the wide-open passing attack of Houston. It's going to be a tough transition for Bronco Mendenhall and his coaching staff. The Lone Star State Cougars are led by a true freshman quarterback, John O'Korn, but he's been playing like an upperclassman. O'Korn has an exciting set of receivers, led by sophomore Deontay Greenberry, who's already caught 39 passes for 606 yards and three touchdowns.

Who To Watch Out For: How will O'Korn handle the pressure of facing a grown-up defense for the first time this year? BYU rarely budges, and LB Kyle Van Noy is a terror coming hard off the edge.

- Houston has a collection of feisty linebackers of its own, the catalyst of the nation's top-ranked takeaway unit. The Cougars hope to offset the power of BYU with the speed and tenacity of linebackers Derrick Matthews and Efrem Oliphant, and FS Trevon Stewart.

- WR Cody Hoffman on play-action should be lethal for BYU this weekend. The senior has great size and balls skills, the kind of playmaker on the outside Houston has yet to face this year.

What Will Happen: Even at home, Houston is about to get exposed as a product of a cushy first-half schedule. While head coach Tony Levine has rebounded nicely in his second year, his team will lack the muscle to take down BYU. The Cougars in white will make it four in a row, pounding away for 200 yards on the ground, while harassing O'Korn into costly mistakes.

Prediction: BYU 33 … Houston 20
Line: BYU -9 – O/U: 63.5
Must See Rating: (5 Bad Grandpa – 1 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish) … 2.5
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Rice (4-2) at New Mexico State (0-6) Oct. 19, 8:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Rice takes a brief interlude from Conference USA play to face New Mexico State for the first time in school history. Winners of three straight, and nine of their last 11 games dating back to last year, the Owls have replaced Tulsa as the favorite in the West Division. The Aggies are mired in the midst of a 17-game losing streak, knotted with Southern Miss for the longest in the FBS. When last seen, they were being obliterated, 66-17, by rival New Mexico at the beginning of the month.

Why Rice Might Win: The Aggies' 123rd-ranked defense will wilt at the prospect of trying to stop the Owl ground game. Rice is dangerous on offense now that 235-pound RB Charles Ross is healthy again and running with authority. Once he and QB Taylor McHargue gets beyond the first level, they'll spend a lot of time taking New Mexico State defensive backs on rides for yards after contact.

Why New Mexico State Might Win: When Rice has lost this season, its defense has let it down. The Aggies will attempt to poke holes in a unit that often lacks consistency, both against the run and the pass. Head coach Doug Martin wants to use both of his quarterbacks, mixing the passing of Andrew McDonald with the athleticism and scrambling ability of exciting rookie King Davis III.

Who To Watch Out For: For the Aggies to have a chance, they've got to find a way to get the ball in the hands of gifted WR Austin Franklin. Since returning from academic problems, the former all-star has caught just five balls for 46 yards.

- When Davis is on the field, he'll likely be spied by Rice LB Michael Kutzler. The senior is having his best year with the program, leading the Owls with 49 stops, including 5.5 for minus yards and two sacks.

What Will Happen: Just maintain your focus, Rice. Mid-season non-conference games on the road can be tricky, especially when the opponent is winless. The Owls will rally around their senior-led backfield, shaking off a slow start to coast in the second half to a fourth win in a row.

Prediction: Rice 41 … New Mexico State 16
Line: Rice -17.5 o/u: 58
Must See Rating: (5 Bad Grandpa – 1 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish) … 1
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