Teams & Conferences

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 51 Houston Cougars

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 51 Houston Cougars


The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Houston Cougars


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No. 51: Houston Cougars

Houston Cougars Prespring Status

It’s hard to have a year as strange as what Houston went through. Good enough to rip through Oklahoma and Louisville, and weird enough to lose to SMU, the Cougars ran through the emotional gamut. Tom Herman took his talents to Austin, Major Applewhite’s debut was a disaster – getting blown out by San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl – and now the pressure is on to make the program even better, but in a new era.

Heart-and-soul QB Greg Ward Jr. is done, but eight starters return to an offense that finished 17th in the nation in passing and averaging 443 yards overall. DT Ed Oliver will be on everyone’s preseason All-America list, but he’s missing a slew of key players around him with three starters gone up front and bother corners done.

Houston Cougars Biggest Issue

The nation’s fourth-best run defense and 13th best D has a ton of work to do. It’ll be next to impossible to replace everything Ward provided on offense, but it’s the other side of the ball that’s the concern, not having game-changing LB Steven Taylor around. With Howard Wilson taking off early for the NFL, the corner situation will be a problem, too. Throw in the loss of Cameron Malveaux at one end, and the four departed starters on defense are big ones.

Houston Cougars Biggest Positive

The running backs should be able to take over. Is Kyle Allen ready to shine for Ward? The former Texas A&M superstar recruit will get every chance to be the new star quarterback, and he – or whomever takes over under center – will get help from a loaded group of running backs with the top five returning in the rotation. The offense will work around the passing attack, but with all five starters back up front, it’ll be tempting to pound away at times.

Really, Why Are The Houston Cougars Ranked Here?

Can Houston avoid the flake factor? Unlike last season, the Tom Herman coaching carousel won’t be a part of the narrative, but the Cougars had a swagger when it came to the big games against the big teams. This time around, can Applewhite pull off an American Athletic title with a team that might turn out to be better – if the defensive replacements don’t hurt? The expectations will be there to do nothing less than hoist a trophy.