Houston, in quest of sixth straight win, meets East Carolina

Houston will look to remain atop the American Athletic Conference standings and extend its winning streak to six games when it hosts East Carolina on Saturday.Houston is coming off a bye after a 40-22 win over Tulane on Oct. 7. Quarterback Clayton Tune completed 23 of 26 pass attempts for 288 yards and three touchdowns to rally his team from a five-point, third-quarter deficit by scoring the game’s final 23 points.”I don’t know if we’ve ever had a break this long,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen told reporters of the 16 days between games. “Everybody was back and ready to roll. Guys seemed ready to get back to work and motivated and ready to go.”The Cougars (5-1, 3-0 AAC) are among three teams undefeated in American Athletic Conference play, along with No. 2 Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0) and No. 21 SMU (6-0, 2-0). Houston hosts SMU on Oct. 30, but it doesn’t face Cincinnati during the regular season, meaning the teams could only meet in the conference title game.Houston has outscored its past five opponents 202-59 since a season-opening, 38-21 loss at Texas Tech in a nonconference game. The Cougars are averaging 37.2 points per game. The defense for East Carolina (3-3, 1-1) is allowing an average of 28 points per game.Tune has thrown for 1,258 yards with 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, while Nathaniel Dell’s 35 receptions are at least double the total of any of his teammates, and his 477 yards are more than twice of any other Houston receiver. Alton McCaskill has emerged as the team’s top ground threat with a team-high 86 carries and 403 yards. He’s scored eight of the Cougars’ 14 rushing touchdowns.Defensively, Houston has 24 sacks on the season, as its defensive line of Logan Hall (four sacks), Derek Parish (3.5) and D’Anthony Jones (3.5) consistently have gotten their hands on the quarterback.East Carolina coach Mike Houston is aware of their prolific totals and likely spent the bye week preparing for the Cougars’ defense.

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