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UConn football vs. Houston Cougars: How to watch, by the numbers, what to watch for

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It’s Homecoming weekend at UConn.

NCAA Football: Houston at Connecticut
Nov 21, 2015; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies safety Junior Lee (23) celebrates with his team and fans after defeating the Houston Cougars at Rentschler Field. UConn defeated Houston 20-17. 
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

KICKOFF: 3:45 P.M. ET

TV: ESPNU

ANNOUNCERS: Mike Corey (play-by-play), Rene Ingoglia (color analyst)

RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network; TuneIn; 97.9 ESPN Hartford, WINE 940 AM, WGCH 1490 AM, WICC 600 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WATR 1320 AM WILI 1400 AM and 95.3 FM

ANNOUNCERS: Mike Crispino (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Adam Giardino (sideline), Bob Joyce (pregame host)

RECORDS: UConn (1-5, 0-3); Houston (2-4, 0-2)

POINT SPREAD: Houston -22.5

OVER/UNDER: 57.5

SERIES HISTORY: The UConn Huskies and Houston Cougars have met twice before on the gridiron with the series tied at 1-1.


Fun With Numbers

727 - On Saturday, UConn will be gunning for their first win against an FBS opponent in 727 days. Their last FBS win came against Tulsa on Oct. 21, 2017.

14 - Number of times UConn has produced points in the red zone this season on 15 tries.

240.8 - Houston ranks No. 14 in the country with 240.8 rushing yards per game. The Huskies gave up over 310 yards on the ground in last week’s loss to Tulane.

8 - Halfway through the season, the UConn defense has forced eight turnovers. Last season, the defense forced just 11 in 12 games.

10 - Days from Saturday until UConn men’s basketball kicks off its season with an exhibition game against Saint Michael’s College at the XL Center.


What to watch for

This ain’t the Houston you know and love

It’s an interesting strategy, what new Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen and his star quarterback D’Eriq King have played this year. Ostensibly, redshirting King could be a good idea. It’s a better look for a new coach to improve in his second year with King at the helm than to inch along to 7-5 with King this year, then drop off a cliff in 2020. On the other hand, if King does end up transferring as many have speculated, calamity wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

Since Houston kicked off their season against Oklahoma, King hasn’t been the only casualty on Houston’s offense. Right tackle Jarrid Williams is out for the season after undergoing surgery, adding to the list of Cougars on the bench.

Houston’s already-poor defense has felt an impact from these injuries as well. The Cougars are 129th in the league in yards per play, worse than UConn by a few spots. Running backs Kyle Porter and Patrick Carr have done a decent job triaging the offense in King’s absence, but it hasn’t been enough for any meaningful success. Will that be enough for UConn to keep things close at home against the reeling Cougars? Probably not, but it adds a layer of intrigue that the Tulane game lacked.

Mason Donaldson, kickoff specialist?

After handling kickoff duties against Tulane, replacing Noah Iden who did not make the trip, the converted wide receiver will continue in his role. He’ll have a chance to provide UConn with three touchbacks in as many attempts; it took previous kickers 20 tries to get that many.

Mason Donaldson was originally recruited as a kicker under Bob Diaco, converted to the wide receiver position by Edsall until, apparently, he was just messing around at practice last week.