Houston hopes to finally open season vs. North Texas

NCAA Football

Houston has been champing at the bit to get on the field and will finally get the chance Saturday when it hosts North Texas in a nonconference game.

While the Mean Green (1-1) already have two games on their resume, the Cougars are preparing for the delayed opening of their truncated 2020 campaign.

Houston has been affected by multiple schedule changes, with its Sept. 3 season opener against Rice postponed in August and its Sept. 12 matchup at Washington State canceled in July.

Then Houston’s American Athletic Conference matchup at Memphis (set for Sept. 18) was postponed on Sept. 12. The Cougars then agreed to a road matchup at Baylor on Sept. 19, but that contest was nixed on Sept. 18 due to COVID-19 issues within Baylor’s program.

“It (hasn’t been) difficult — we’ve had four games canceled, so we’re kind of used to that,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday. “It’s okay to be upset, but you can’t hang on to it like that. We buried it yesterday.

“There’s a lot ahead of us, and we’re ready. We will stay ready. It’s game week and we are in there prepping for North Texas.”

Houston returns its 2019 statistical leaders in passing yards and touchdowns (Clayton Tune), rushing yards (Kyle Porter), receiving yards and touchdowns (Marquez Stevenson), tackles (Grant Stuard), interceptions (Damarion Williams) and field goals made (Dalton Witherspoon).

North Texas plays its second consecutive game against an AAC opponent after losing at home to SMU 65-35 on Saturday night.

Austin Aune passed for 276 yards and two touchdowns and added another score on the ground for UNT. Oscar Adaway III rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries while Jaelon Darden racked up 66 yards and two TDs receiving. The Mean Green had 517 yards of total offense in the loss.

Their defense was behind the eight-ball from the start against SMU. Starting linebackers KD Davis and Tyreke Davis were ruled out for medical reasons just before kickoff, and starting safety Keelan Crosby went down with an injury on UNT’s first defensive play of the game.

North Texas allowed 710 yards in the loss to SMU and gave up scores on the Mustangs’ first four possessions and six of seven during one span that began in the second quarter.

“It certainly doesn’t help to miss your two best players on defense,” North Texas coach Seth Littrell said. “But we’re not making excuses. You just have to get better. We just have to settle into our system and figure out what we’re good and not good at.”

Houston and North Texas are meeting for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in a decade. The Cougars lead the all-time series 8-7, have won five consecutive meetings in the series and scored 40-plus points in their last three games versus the Mean Green.

–Field Level Media

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