I believe Houston is a real team to watch in 2009. I have high hopes for the Cougars, who have a strong enough offense to carry it to the Conference USA crown. Only my issues with the defense prevent me from putting the Cougars in the Top 25, though I would not be surprised if the team wins enough games to end the season in the 22 to 25 range. Simply put, I don’t believe any team in conference play can stop Houston, though a team like Tulsa, for instance, will have the offense needed to keep the game close. But here’s the concern: I don’t believe Houston has the horses to stop many teams, either. That will keep the Cougars from being more than a dark horse contender to break into the B.C.S., though I still am confident this deficiency will not prevent U.H. from winning as many as 10 games and the Conference USA title. To win 10, Houston would need to beat Texas Tech: this would allow the Cougars one loss in Conference USA play, which despite this team’s talent is a near certainty. My final prediction is a 9-3 finish, with a win in the conference championship game catapulting a still-young squad to even greater heights in 2010.