In January 2019, Dana Holgorsen made the very unusual decision to leave as head football coach of Power 5 conference school West Virginia and sign with Group of 5 school Houston. Now the Cougars are in the Big 12, however, and Holgorsen faces his former WVU team for the first time Thursday night with the surprising Mountaineers as 3-point road favorites and Holgorsen perhaps on the hot seat.
West Virginia wasted no time replacing Holgorsen four years ago by landing Troy's Neal Brown, then considered a rising star. He entered this season on the hottest seat in the Big 12 with WVU having back-to-back losing seasons but the Mountaineers are 4-1 overall – that loss in the season opener to a stellar Penn State team -- and near the top of the Big 12 at 2-0 in league play. It enters on a 4-0 ATS run as well.
Not bad considering West Virginia was picked to finish 14th in the league. Thursday will be the first time #HailWV faces off against one of its former head coaches since facing Bobby Bowden and Florida State in the 2010 Gator Bowl.
WVU will be a bit short-handed as last time out against TCU it lost starting inside linebacker Trey Lathan for the season and saw starting free safety Aubrey Burks taken off the field on a medical cart. He’s questionable Thursday. Starting left guard Tomas Rimac will not be available after reinjuring his ankle, and starting left tackle Wyatt Milum is going to be a game-time decision after getting poked in the eye.
UH won 12 games two years ago, slipped to eight last year and is 2-3 so far this year– the Cougars did lose offensive stars in QB Clayton Tune and WR Tank Dell to the 2023 NFL Draft. Houston has been blown out in both league games so far by TCU and Texas Tech. In each of its first two Big 12 games, Houston has trailed by seven points at the break only to be shut out in the second half.
The Cougars have not lost the turnover battle in their first five games as they rank fourth nationally with just three turnovers and are fifth in turnover margin (1.20). Houston has forced nine turnovers, which ranks fourth in the Big 12.
Houston has lost eight in a row to Big 12 opponents (2-6 ATS) with the last win at the start of the 2016 season vs. Oklahoma. UH is 46-18 in October since 2006, including a 26-9 mark at home. The #GoCoogs have won seven straight games in the month with its lost loss coming on Halloween 2020 vs. UCF (44-21). UH is 6-1 in its last seven non-Saturday games.
In total, 16 current Houston football coaches, staff members and student-athletes either coached, played or worked at West Virginia. That includes UH leading receiver Samuel Brown (34/518/1).