Houston Game: Facts and Factors

UCLA at 0-2 gets no relief this Saturday when one of the most potent offenses in the nation comes to town. Here's some of the factors that will come into play when UCLA takes on Houston Saturday...

-- The Houston Cougars come to the Rose Bowl Saturday to take on the Bruins in a game televised on FSN at 7:30 p.m. Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis are in the booth and Rebecca Haarlow on the sideline.

-- UCLA is, of course, 0-2, losing to Kansas State, 31-22 September 4th, and then getting drubbed last week against Stanford at home, 35-0.

-- Houston is 2-0, having beaten Texas State 68-28 and UTEP 54-24.

-- It's the first road game of the season for the Cougars.

-- The all-time series between the two programs is tied 2-2. UCLA won at Houston in the last matchup in 1998, 44-24. The year before, in 1997, the Bruins beat the Cougars 66-10. UCLA lost to Houston in 1979, 24-16, and in 1977, 17-13. Both times Houston was ranked in the top 25 in the country.

-- Houston is currently ranked #23 in the nation.

-- In UCLA's wins in 1998 and 1997, Cade McNown threw for a combined 612 yards and six touchdown passes, and didn't even play most of the second half of the 1997 game. In that game, the score was 45-3 at halftime.

-- Houston is coached by Kevin Sumlin, in his third season with the Cougars. In his two seasons, Sumlin is 20-9 with back-to-back bowl appearances. That makes him the only head coach in Houston history to lead the team to two bowl appearances in his first two seasons. Under Sumlin, the former offensive coordinator with Purdue and Oklahoma (under Bob Stoops), Houston has become an offensive juggernaut, last season being only the third team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer and three 1,000-yard receivers (Texas Tech did it in 2007 and Tulsa in 2007). In the off-season Sumlin inked a contract extension and brought in a new defensive coordinator, Brian Stewart, with NFL experience (he is the former DC for the Dallas Cowboys), so Sumlin, even before the two wins to start the season, is the toast of the town.

-- With last year's trip to the Air Force Bowl, the Cougars have been to a school-record five straight bowl games, and six bowl games in seven seasons.

-- Houston has won the Conference USA championship just twice, in 2006 and 1996.

-- Last season was one of the sixth best seasons in Houston's football history. It' ten wins in 2009 equaled those in 1976, 1990 and 2006, and the Cougars have posted 11 wins in 1973 and 1979.

-- Houston should be favored in every one of its remaining games. If it notches a win against UCLA, Houston supporters are envisioning an undefeated season and potential consideration in the BCS championship. The Cougars have a good chance, with their remaining opponents so far posting a combined 8-11 record.

-- Houston quarterback Case Keenum is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He is currently fifth on the NCAA all-time passing list, and is 3,570 yards away from setting the all-time NCAA record. He is also 2,591 yards away from setting the NCAA all-time record for total offense.

-- Keenum experienced a concussion last week against UTEP and is currently listed as day-to-day.

-- If UCLA loses to Houston, it goes on the road to face #4-ranked Texas in Austin 0-3, and facing down a 0-4 start. IF UCLA does indeed lose to Houston and Texas, it would tie for UCLA's worst start to a season since 1971, when Pepper Rogers' Bruins started 0-4 and ended the season 2-7-1.

-- The next worst start since 1971 was in 1983 when UCLA began the season 0-3-1, but finished the season 7-4-1, won the Pac-10 and trounced highly-favored and #4-ranked Illinois in the Rose Bowl, 45-9. That season the quarterback for the Bruins was Rick Neuheisel, who won the starting job four games into the season and ending up passing for 2,245 yards and was the Rose Bowl MVP, throwing for 298 yards and four touchdowns in that game. Neuheisel still holds the UCLA single-season record for completion percentage, completing 69.3% of his passes in 1983.

-- Weather-wise, it should be another perfect day at the Rose Bowl for football on Saturday. The high is projected to be 80 degrees, and about 65 degrees at game time.


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