Through the first two games, the Cougars were on fire, ringing up 122 combined points before losing losing both the starting quarterback - prolific passer Case Keenum - and his backup (Cotton Turner) in a 31-13 loss at UCLA.
Piland has thrown for 583 yards in the last two games, but the Cougars have come up on the short end of the stick in both outings, including a loss to Rice last Saturday night.
With an inexperienced signal-caller at the helm, Houston hopes to get maximum effort from junior RB Bryce Beall. The Tatum, Texas, native leads the Cougars in rushing with 544 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's topped the century-mark in all three conference games, including a 19-carry, 195-yard (with 3 TDs) effort vs. UTEP.
Beall was expected to split the load this season with sophomore Charles Sims, but Sims (nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards in 2009) was declared ineligible in June.
Cleveland was suspended for the Mississippi State game two weeks ago, but the Baytown Lee product returned to catch 8 passes for 80 yards against Rice.
Edwards is very elusive on punt returns, averaging 13.2 yards (12-158). In turn, Carrier (25-543) picks up nearly 22 yards per kick return and ranks just outside the Top 10 in the nation in that category.
Kicker Matt Hogan is 6-for-8 on field goals, but he's 0-2 on attempts from further than 39 yards.