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Houston vs. Arizona: Three keys to a Wildcats victory over the Cougars

A win in week two will take some more effort

Northern Arizona v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As expected, the Arizona Wildcats rolled through week one without any major issues as far as the final score was concerned.

But now it’s week two, and Arizona faces a Houston Cougars team that has caught the attention of casual fans the last two years.

However, there are a lot of unknowns about this particular Houston team. This is their first game of the year after Hurricane Harvey canceled their opener against UTSA, they have a new head coach, new quarterback, and a good amount of new faces on defense.

So it’s hard to predict what exactly Arizona will have to face on Saturday, but we still have a pretty good idea of what it will take for the Wildcats to improve to 2-0.

Here are my three keys for Tucson enjoying two wins in two weeks:

1. The Olive Underpass

If you’re a music building or Eller regular on campus, the Olive underpass is a way of life. The Arizona offensive line’s way of life on Saturday will be keeping Ed Oliver under control during the passing game (see what I did there...ok sorry).

Honestly, I feel like this game will come down to if Arizona can hold off the Cougar defensive line, no matter what the offensive scheme is. Will they be able to generate the holes that we saw against NAU? Probably not that often, but if they pop up, Arizona’s running/quarter backs will need to get through those holes immediately. And honestly, I don’t expect much of a passing game this week either since Houston will probably cause a lot of problems when this team tries to create a pocket for the quarterback.

2. Major Apple Annies

Here’s what we do know about Houston: Major Applewhite pretty much has nowhere to go but down.

The former Texas quarterback finds himself in a top spot, taking over the head coaching duties from Tom Herman after the team went 22-4 before last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.

Then that game happened — with Applewhite at the helm — and that’s the day I felt like Arizona would win this game.

Houston looked atrocious against San Diego State. Flat out awful. And while I do think SDSU is a more talented team than Arizona is in their current states, it made me believe Arizona will beat Houston at home.

With an offseason under his belt, we’ll see if Applewhite can come up with a gameplan that will succeed. But right now, I will have to see it before I believe it.

3. Air and Space Museum

In my opinion, the two weakest groups for Arizona in week one were the corners and linebackers. There was a lot of open space in the middle of the field, and the Wildcat corners did not play NAU’s air game very well.

The assignment confusions and mishaps need to be figured out, and playing the ball in the air just needs to actually happen in order for the defense to pick it up. Obviously allowing 562 yards to NAU is concerning, and a lot of things will need to be cleaner against a team of Houston’s caliber for Arizona to have a shot.