Houston v. Pittsburgh
Amon G. Carter Stadium — Fort Worth, TX
January 2, 2015 — 12:00 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Why You Should Watch
So New Year’s Day is over, 2015 has started in earnest, and you may or may not be back at work for one useless Friday before the weekend. If you’re not working, you’re probably waiting for friends or family to get off work before continuing the holiday into the weekend. So why not spend the time watching football live from the Lone Star State? After all, it’s one of the last seven chances to watch college football this season, and you’re going to desperately long for any football, even an early afternoon exhibition between two metropolitan universities. So get your fill now, and kick off the last full day of games in the 2014-15 college football season.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
This is the fourth time the Cougars have played in the Armed Forces Bowl, and their second bowl game in two years as a member of the American Athletic Conference. They opened the season with three losses in their first five before rebounding to go 5-2 down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to save head coach Tony Levine’s job. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs will serve as interim coach for the bowl game before Tom Herman takes over full-time duties after finishing his season at Ohio State. The team was erratic on offense, scoring 29 points per game to finish 62nd nationally and ranking in the middle third of the country in both passing and rushing. The defense was the salvation for Houston this season, finishing 11th in points allowed and 19th in total yardage conceded. They also managed 30 takeaways in 12 games, ranking seventh nationally in turnovers created and 21st in turnover margin.
Pittsburgh is preparing to hire its fourth head coach since firing Dave Wannstedt after the 2010 season. Mike Haywood saw his offer rescinded after domestic violence charges surfaced, leading to the hire of Todd Graham. A year later Graham bolted for Arizona State, and Paul Chryst came over from Wisconsin. Now Chryst completes the round trip back to Madison to take the sudden opening left by Gary Andersen’s departure, and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph will serve as the interim coach before Pat Narduzzi takes over after being hired from Michigan State. Chad Voytik was the quarterback for a passing attack that ranked 105th nationally, and the sophomore finished with just over 2000 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. The offense depended heavily on sophomore tailback James Conner, who piled up 1675 yards and 24 touchdowns in 12 games. The defense was 26th in the country in yardage given up, but just 54th in points allowed after permitting opponents to score nearly 26 points per game.
What is Likely to Happen
Pittsburgh arrives in Fort Worth having suffered through two separate three-game losing streaks over the course of the season, but they won two straight to end the regular season. Houston lost their season finale at Cincinnati, but has not lost consecutive games yet this season. The Armed Forces Bowl isn’t going to be any different for the Cougars, who will get a couple of timely turnovers against the Panthers to win the battle of wildcats on the Horned Frogs’ home field. Yards will be at a premium, but the team that has coughed up more points to opponents this season will falter against the stingier of the two defenses.
Houston 26, Pittsburgh 20