Out-of-nowhere Baylor-Houston football matchup gives fans an unexpected surprise
The college football season is off and running with some fits and starts. The Covid-19 crisis has caused cancellations, postponements and difficulties of all kinds.
But one positive is the unexpected matchup we will get this weekend when Houston plays at Baylor.
Houston's Friday night opener against Memphis was postponed when multiple Memphis players tested positive. Baylor faced the same situation with Louisiana Tech. The result? Both schools worked out a deal to play on Saturday in a nationally televised game. It will be a good test for the Bears, who break in a new coach with Dave Aranda. And for UH, it will also be a test to see where Dana Holgorsen's program is in year No. 2 against a Power Five opponent.
The schools were rivals in the Southwest Conference, but have not played since 1995. They were also linked by Art Briles, who began his career at UH and then went to Baylor, where he brought unprecedented success on the field and shame off of it.
The Bears have a new coaching staff, with Matt Rhule bailing for the NFL after competing for the Big 12 title. Dave Aranda won a national championship as defensive coordinator at LSU last season, and he brings veteran OC Larry Fedora, an offensive mind who was head coach at both Southern Miss and North Carolina. It is Aranda's first head coaching job, so it is hard to say how the Bears will look, but you can expect them to be defense-oriented. The offense returns four starters on the offensive line, a group that struggled last season, and quarterback Charlie Brewer. Top receiving threat Denzel Mims is gone to the NFL, but the Bears still have talent.
Defensively, they lost nine starters off what was a stellar group, so Aranda and DC Ron Roberts have their work cut out for them. Roberts was DC at Louisiana last season.
The Cougars return a lot of solid talent on offense, and if Clayton Tune can take a step in Year 2 and throw fewer interceptions, the offense should be pretty good. Last season was one of the rare years when Holgorsen didn't have a solid offense. Their top five WRs from last season return, as does four of the five starters on the offensive line. They also bring back a solid 1-2 punch at running back in Kyle Porter and Mulbah Carr. The defense was a disaster last year, but they return 16 of 17 of their top tacklers, and mix in several transfers. The experience they got last season should make a big difference. Baylor is a seven-point favorite and the over/under is 60.
It's a fun, unexpected matchup. It's nice to see schools work together to make something like this happen, because in the RonaVerse, it will probably be an ongoing thing. It's rare to see a game come together one week out, but it makes sense for both teams.
It also gives the fans a nice surprise and something to look forward to this weekend.