Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the Houston Cougars and the Sam Houston Bearkats.
Saturday, September 23; 6:00 p.m. CT; TDECU Stadium; Houston, Texas
Radio: KPRC 950 AM (Kevin Eschenfelder, Ted Pardee, Jeremy Branham)
2022 Records: Houston (1-2); Sam Houston (0-2)
Series History: Houston leads, 4-2-0
Last Meeting: Houston 31, Sam Houston State 10 (2005)
Spread: Houston (-12.5)
Fun Fact: Sam Houston (formerly Sam Houston State) joined the FBS ranks for the first time this season after being a powerhouse at the FCS level for years, including an FCS national championship in 2020.
QB DONOVAN SMITH
The Houston offense is not operating at the level that Cougars’ fans were used to in previous years, and a lot of that has to do with Donovan Smith‘s struggles. Through three games, Smith is completing 56.8% of his passes for 718 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions. As a runner, he’s turned a team-leading 41 carries into three touchdowns, but just 78 yards (1.9 ypc). He needs to be better with Big 12 play looming, and this week against a good Sam Houston defense is the perfect time to try and get things going.
DL NELSON CEASER
The best part of Houston’s defense to this point in the season has been Nelson Ceasar, who has been a one-man wrecking crew through three games. He ranks third on the team in tackles (17) and leads the team in sacks with 3.0 of the team’s total of 6.0 sacks. Against Sam Houston, who’s been one of the worst offenses in the FBS through two games, he will be a point of emphasis.
SAM HOUSTON BEARKATS
QB KEEGAN SHOEMAKER
Man, this is rough. Sam Houston has played two games, and its leading passer, Keegan Shoemaker, has completed 55.3% of his passes for 191 yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions. Yes, that’s two game’s worth of stats. To make matters worse, the Bearkats’ leading rusher (Zach Hrbacek) 15 carries for 30 yards and zero touchdowns. They’ll need to find some offense this weekend against the Cougars, and if they’re going to do that, it’ll probably have to be through the air, with Houston allowing 308 yards through the air per game.
LB TREVOR WILLIAMS
As bad as Sam Houston’s offense has been, its defense has been spectacular. With games against BYU and Air Force, the Bearkats have allowed just 27 total points. 27 is also the number of tackles that Trevor Williams has through two games, which leads the team. With Donovan Smith likely coming downhill a lot in this game, Williams will likely be busy on Saturday.
Can Houston shake off its loss to TCU last week and take care of business against Sam Houston? The Cougars were exposed last week, with TCU running wild for 250 yards on the ground. Houston only mustered 41 yards on the ground in response, which is a major issue considering the slate they’ll have in Big 12 play. Donovan Smith and Co. need to get things figured out this week offensively, because Texas Tech, West Virginia, Texas, and Kansas State are the next four games on the docket.
SAM HOUSTON BEARKATS
Can Sam Houston score its first touchdown of the season? Through eight quarters of football, the Bearkats have just three points on the board, which explains their 0-2 record. Houston is coming off a 36-13 loss to TCU, and if they limp into this game, maybe Sam Houston can strike. However, I’m just not real keen on picking a team that is averaging 1.5 points per game.
PREDICTION: HOUSTON 23, SAM HOUSTON 10
While I do like the Bearkats to get their first touchdown of the season, I just can’t pick them to win this game. Houston may very well be the worst team in the Big 12 at this point in time, but losing to a team that was playing FCS football last season would take a cataclysmic meltdown. With BYU beating this team 14-0, I’ll take Houston to allow some more points, but score a few more as well.