HARTFORD EAST, Connecticut.
The Houston No.19 will travel to UConn on Saturday in an attempt to avoid the overconfidence that could come from ending an already successful regular season against the Huskies in one win.
Dana Holgorsen’s Cougars (10-1, 8-0 U.S., No.24 CFP) are already unbeaten in their conference and clinched a berth in the American Athletic Conference title match on December 4 against No.1 4 Cincinnati.
But Holgorsen said his team still had a reason to focus on the hapless Huskies (1-10).
Houston will enter Rentschler Field on a 10-game winning streak and with the chance to become only the fifth team in program history to win 11 games in one season.
“We can put our name in the top five by hitting 11, that should motivate you,” Holgorsen said. “Keeping the momentum going should motivate you. “
UConn’s victory came against Yale on October 16, a victory that ended an 11-game losing streak. The Huskies haven’t beaten an FBS opponent since winning UMass in October 2019.
The Huskies parted ways with coach Randy Edsall just two games from their first season as an Indie after leaving the American. They will play their final game under interim head coach Lou Spanos before former UCLA and NFL coach Jim Mora takes over.
Mora, who has served as an assistant coach since announcing his hiring earlier this month, has spent his vacation week on the recruiting track, attending high school football games across Connecticut.
The Cougars are averaging over 417 yards per game, while the Huskies are giving up an average of 450. The Huskies, on the other hand, only amassed 267 yards per game, while Houston allowed 293.
Houston’s 10-game winning streak is the fourth longest in program history and the longest since the program had 11 straight wins in 2015, starting with the Armed Forces Bowl in January. The streak is the fourth longest nationally.
Holgorsen said linebacker Donavan Mutin, who had to be hauled off the field in Houston’s win over Memphis, is doing well.
But at his weekly press conference, Holgorsen did not say whether Mutin would be able to play, either against UConn or in the conference title game against Cincinnati.
“First and foremost, his health and safety is the number one thing that concerns us,” said Holgorsen. “And he’s good.”
Holgorsen said Mutin’s player status will be determined by the team’s medical staff.
UConn is expected to lose several players as he changes coaching teams, a process that has already started.
Defensive back Jeremy Lucien was ruled out of both depths this week, just before announcing his entry on the NCAA transfer portal. The 6-foot-2 junior has had 29 tackles and two interceptions this season.
“I gave you everything I had both on the pitch and in the classroom,” Lucien said in a Twitter message to UConn fans. “I know the victories haven’t come, but I hope your fortunes will change in the future.”
The Cougars and Huskies met three more times before UConn left the American. The last reunion was at Rentschler Field in 2019, when Logan Holgorsen, the son of Houston coach Dana Holgorsen, started as a quarterback and helped the Cougars to a 24-17 victory. Young Holgorsen is now Houston’s equipment manager.