2017 Football Preview – AAC Conference – Cougars
Looking for 2017 Houston Cougars predictions? The Cougars have simply earned a winning pedigree; first under head coach Art Briles (long before his infamous exit from Baylor), then Tom Herman and now – the Cougs hope – under first-year coach Major Applewhite. Once again, Houston is poised to contend in the AAC in 2017.
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- Head Coach: Major Applewhite
- 2016 Record: 9-4
- Houston Cougars Odds to win the 2017 FBS Championship: +30000
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Houston features a potential star transfer QB and a rising star head coach, so can that formula keep the Cougars in the type of winning manner in which they’ve grown accustomed?
2017 Houston Cougars Predictions: Team Strengths
D-Line Strongman: The Cougars are lucky enough to have star sophomore Ed Oliver suiting up at defensive tackle, who simply finished third in the nation in tackles for loss (1.73 per game) as a freshman.
His athleticism and disruptive ability means that opportunities are there for others on the defensive front, such as senior Nick Thurman and junior Jerard Carter.
When Oliver draws double teams from the opposition, not only can others exploit mismatches, but the secondary is boosted. The Cougs usually play with five DBs, the stars of which are safeties Garrett Davis and Khalil Williams.
Two of Houston’s starting LBs from last year are gone, but the return of senior Matthew Adams, who led the team in tackles despite missing a couple of games, helps soothe the pain.
In-State Transfer Under Center: Junior signal-caller Kyle Allen, who started 14 games for SEC competitor Texas A&M, has made the trek east and now calls Texas’s largest city home. He will start straight-away for the Cougars and Applewhite and Co. hope he can improve upon his 2,210 yards and 17 TDs he put up with the Aggies.
Not only can Allen get the job done with his scrambling skills, he will have some targets to throw to, primarily senior Linell Bonner.
There is more help in the middle of the offense, in the forms of junior center Will Noble and junior RB Duke Catalon, a former Texas Longhorn back from injury. Secondary threats can be provided by senior WR Steven Dunbar.
There is unquestionably talent on this offense, but the key thing will be how the unit gels this season. Will these talented transfers and former prep stars have the required chemistry to carry Houston back to the top?
2017 Houston Cougars Predictions: Team Weaknesses
A Lot of DBs But A Lot of Absentees: The aforementioned Davis and Williams are excellent in the secondary, but Houston starts five guys in that unit and two key starters – Howard and Brandon Wilson – left for the NFL.
Thus, depth could be a concern in the defensive backfield for Houston.
Senior CB Alexander Myres might get his shot to show what he can do in 2017. Fellow corner Jeremy Winchester has some starting experience from last year, so the Cougars ‘D’ will look to him for some leadership.
As much potential as Allen and Coach Applewhite have, they still have very big shoes to fill with last year’s star QB Greg Ward and star head coach Tom Herman, who is now the lead man for the Texas Longhorns. There’s usually some turbulence along the way with a new regime.
Houston Cougars Prediction: 10-2
Houston looks to contend in the American Athletic Conference, and the Cougars look on track to do precisely that. It speaks volumes that Applewhite said that last year’s record (9-4 with a loss to S.D. State in the Las Vegas Bowl) was unacceptable.
That is the kind of pedigree this football program has now.
Houston enjoys a couple of winnable non-conference matchups against Arizona and Texas Tech this season. They aren’t locks, but as far as Big 12 and Pac-12 competition is concerned, these aren’t the most intimidating outfits.
Within their conference, the Cougs will have challenges from two home games versus Memphis on Oct. 19 and the season’s final game against Navy, while a road contest at South Florida on Nov. 4 also looms large.
If Allen can get acclimated well and thrive in the somewhat lesser competition in the AAC compared to his time in the SEC as an Aggie, and Applewhite can show all the talking heads why he was such a desired commodity in the coaching community, Houston could nab itself another AAC title.
2017 Houston Cougars Football Schedule
- 9/2/17 TBD at UTSA
- 9/9/17 TBD at ARI
- 9/16/17 TBD RICE
- 9/23/17 TBD T. TECH
- 9/30/17 TBD @TEMP
- 10/7/17 TBD SMU
- 10/14/17 TBD at TULS
- 10/19/17 TBD MEM
- 10/28/17 TBD ECU
- 11/4/17 TBD at USF
- 11/18/17 TBD at TUL
- 11/24/17 TBD NAVY
What do you think about our 2017 Houston Cougars predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2017!
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