IT's Houston game picks

IT's Bill Frisbie gives you his pick, and the reasoning behind that picks, in Saturday's game between Texas and Houston.

Now appearing at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, for the first time since the November 2001 Kansas game, four full quarters of Longhorn offense. Or, at least expect the Texas O to display against Houston Saturday night the fireworks it detonated last weekend at North Carolina. Of greater concern to head coach Mack Brown this week was his defense’s lapses of intensity, weak tackling, and susceptibility to an agile quarterback chewing up chunks of yardage (especially on draw plays). The Horns posted a shutout during the home opener, but North Texas’ offense wasn’t any good anyway, Brown said, vicariously challenging his defense through sportswriters and broadcasters.

The defensive front seven is bruised, with DT Marcus Tubbs likely out for the Houston game and DE Kalen Thornton still not 100 percent following off-season reconstructive knee surgery. Houston QB Barrick Nealy has drawn comparisons to Texas signal-caller Vince Young, but the feeling here is the two are more alike in stature (Nealy is 6-5, 210) than in stats. Nealy accounts for nearly 60 percent of his team’s total offense, but the Coogs are averaging four turnovers per game. RB Joffrey Reynolds is the nation’s 15th leading rusher and had some success against Texas two years ago but has yet to face the kind of a defense this season that he will Saturday night (no matter what Brown told reporters).

Houston FS Hanik Milligan is the only UH defender good enough to start for Texas (Brown said he’ll be playing Sundays next year), but it bodes well for the Cedric Bensons of the world when a team’s free safety is the leading tackler (see North Carolina’s Dexter Reid). In fact, the only real difference between the Cougar and Tar Heel defense is UH will neither stack the line nor blitz as much.

In short, the offense will pick up where it left off last week; the defense wants to prove it can play four quarters of inspired football.

And Texas has averaged 50.5 against UH during the past two years (It almost makes up for the times Houston hung-50 on the ‘Horns during the late-1980s. Almost…)

Bold prediction: CB Rod Babers gets a pick.

Safe bet: Texas 50, Houston 10.

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