What: University of Houston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs
When: Saturday, December 7, 12:30 p.m.
Line: Houston -3.5
Even if I ran out of speed, boy, I wouldn’t sleep a minute away.
It’s just about here! The Las Vegas Bowl! And this is definitely the game expected in our last preview. Please don’t click provided link, just take our word for it.
Fine. This is definitely an intriguing matchup, and one we definitely didn’t feel positive about getting. Rocky Long waxed poetic on how we all end up in a box with dirt on top of it as the planet decays and the sun will eventually go supernova, and how they don’t make ’em like they used to … but outside of a New Year’s Six berth, this is about as exciting of a game as we could have hoped for. Both of these teams were early darlings to sneak into the grownups table and both took three disappointing losses, meaning Western Michigan is the one going to the Cotton Bowl. They’re both still very good football teams. Oh, and that Donnel Pumphrey fella has a chance to become the all-time* leading rusher in college football. One hundred and eight yards will do it.
The big story with Houston is that their success has resulted in losing head coach Tom Herman last month. When the University of Texas at Austin comes knocking, you don’t really say no. Replacing Herman is offensive coordinator – and former Texas QB – Major Applewhite. Will this serve as a distraction for Houston? Probably. Could it affect the game? Sure. Will this be overstated, win or lose? You bet.
The Las Vegas Bowl is here, and we are PUMPED.
Why should we be scared of them?
Houston has allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per-game in the nation. On offense, they have one of the better passing attacks in college football. I’ve probably overstated San Diego State’s issues against the pass this season, but they have had issues at times against competent passing games. On paper, this appears to set up San Diego State having a tough time on both sides of the ball. It’s simplistic, but this one doesn’t really need a deep dive – this will be a tough game for the Aztecs.
Do they have anyone worth watching?
Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. not only leads Houston’s dynamic passing game, but he’s Houston’s leading rusher! Houston also has three receivers in Linell Bonner (junior), Chance Allen (senior), and Steven Dunbar (junior) who have more receiving yards than Aztecs leader Mikah Holder (junior). Have I mentioned their passing game?
Also worth watching: Houston’s defense, in general. Particularly their front seven, who will be instrumental if they are to stifle Pumphrey’s shot at breaking the all-time* rushing record. Keep your eyes on freshman DT Ed Oliver, who has 19.5 tackles for loss on the season. He’s pretty good.
Why should we hate them?
This will be the third time SDSU and UH have faced off, with Houston winning both of the prior meetings. Considering we haven’t seen them since the 70s, it’s hard to give a good reason to hate these guys. However, if you want a real good one, please continue to the next section…
Do they have any famous alumni we can make fun of?
Houston alum and former Padres owner John Moores could have been a hero. Early success after what was probably the darkest time in Padres history (Tom Werner era), as well as a new ballpark and philanthropy in the San Diego area (including at San Diego State), made it appear Moores would be made in San Diego for life. From there, the Padres returned to their ways of being relatively cheap, drafting and developing poorly, and not doing a whole lot to improve the overall health of the club.
And then Moores had sex with his wife’s gynecologist, as one does. His ensuing divorce would lead to the Padres shedding payroll and talent, a “sale” to an underfunded grifter, that sale being rejected by MLB, and Moores returning in time to steal $200 million from a television deal negotiated after he “sold” the club. While this is usually a light-hearted section, this guy deserves the ire of the San Diego sports fan.
I don’t hold grudges, however.
Will we beat them?
Unless I’m completely mistaken, this game marks the first time all season that the Aztecs are ‘dogs. I’m taking the Aztecs, but it’s going to be close. This is a game where a loss won’t be embarrassing in the least. We should get a great game, and hopefully Pumphrey breaking the record. Even Rocky Long should be able to find joy this Saturday in Vegas.