The Houston Cougars are coming off their first loss of the season after the BYU Cougars kicked a late field goal for a 47-46 victory. Houston must bounce back in a hurry, however, as they face a major challenge in AAC play when they go on the road to play the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who are coming off a bye week. The Cougars should feel confident, though, as their greatest strength, the passing game, is more than enough to run their conference record to a perfect 3-0 this Saturday.
Houston ranks No. 3 in the AAC in passing offense, averaging 312.3 yards per game as they’ve raced out to a strong 6-1 start to the 2013 season. Deontay Greenberry has emerged as one of the elite pass-catchers in the conference, averaging 112.3 yards per game, good for second in the AAC. In all, he’s caught 50 passes this season for 674 yards and scored five touchdowns. Last week against BYU, he snagged a game-high 11 passes for 68 yards and scored twice. He’s as reliable a target in the passing game as they come and he’s come on strong for Houston in his sophomore season.
Rutgers, meanwhile, struggles against strong passing attacks. They rank dead last in the conference in pass defense, allowing 306.8 yards per game and have surrendered a conference-high 15 touchdown passes over six games. They have surrendered 300 yards or more in four games this season, including two in which their opponents threw for over 400 yards, and have surrendered two touchdown passes or more in four of six games this season. They have looked extremely vulnerable against the pass this season, showing very few signs of turning it around.
That makes the gameplan simple for Houston. They must attack Rutgers through the air, stretching the Knights’ defense vertically, using Greenberry in particular to break open the game with big plays. If they’re able to find a rhythm with their passing attack, the Cougars have an excellent shot at escaping New Jersey with a big conference win.