Houston will be looking for its first win at the new TDECU Stadium when Grambling State visits Saturday in a game featuring teams that struggled with turnovers on the way to losing their season openers. Houston gave away the ball on six occasions - with four interceptions by sophomore John O'Korn - in a 27-7 setback to Texas San Antonio last week at the school's $120 million stadium. Grambling State will also look to bounce back after losing four fumbles and throwing an interception in a 42-27 loss at Lamar.
The interceptions were uncharacteristic for O'Korn, who had just 10 last season when he led the nation among true freshmen with 28 touchdown passes over an 8-5 season that included a BBVA Compass Bowl loss to Vanderbilt. O'Korn didn't finish the season opener as coach Tony Levine replaced him with senior Billy Cosh for the Cougars' final drive, which went 70 yards on 12 plays and ended with a 2-yard scoring run by Ryan Jackson. Despite the rough opener, Levine left no doubt at his weekly press conference Tuesday that O'Korn would be the starter against Grambling State: "I think he's shown everyone that he's got the ability, the talent and a right to be confident."
TV: 5 p.m. ET, ESPN3. LINE: None
ABOUT GRAMBLING STATE (0-1): The Tigers trailed 14-13 at halftime, but saw their secondary picked apart for four third-quarter touchdown passes over an eight-minute span to trail 42-13. Grambling State, which is 2-21 since winning the 2011 Southwestern Athletic Conference title, will also have to get its offense on track after rushing for 101 yards on 45 carries and completing just 18-of-40 pass attempts against Lamar. Quarterback Stephen Johnson went 6-for-18 for 108 yards while rushing for a team-leading 51 in the setback.
ABOUT HOUSTON (0-1): Receiver Deontay Greenberry, who had 82 catches for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, was one of the few bright spots against Texas San Antonio with six receptions for 96 yards. Despite his youth, O'Korn already ranks 12th in career passing yards (3,321) at Houston and finished 2013 just 14 yards shy of tying former NFL quarterback Kevin Kolb for most throwing yards (3,131) by a Cougar freshman.
1. Houston has forced at least one turnover in 24 consecutive games.
2. The Cougars have 53,780 offensive yards since 2006, more than any school in the nation.
3. Ironically, Houston had a minus-5 turnover margin in its opener after leading the nation (plus-25) last season.
PREDICTION: Houston 35, Grambling State 17