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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Unfamiliar foes: Houston

By Matt Fortuna

Our series taking a team-by-team look at the marquee nonconference players Big East teams will face in the fall continues today with Houston.

To read the Cincinnati entry, click here.

Offensive opponent to watch: Jordan Taylor, WR, Rice. The Owls' leading receiver from a year ago will face  the Cougars in both teams' third game of the season, this after he opens against the SEC's Texas A&M and Kansas of the Big 12. Taylor played in all 13 games last season, catching 57 passes for 826 yards with three touchdowns. He really broke out in the Armed Forces Bowl, catching nine passes for 153 yards and three scores in a 33-14 win over Air Force that capped a five-game winning streak to end the year. Taylor earned all-bowl recognition from ESPN.com, USA Today and CBSSports.com for the performance, and the 6-foot-5, 210-pound redshirt junior should challenge for all-Conference USA honors in 2013 after finishing 10th in the league last season in receiving yards per game (63.5).

Defensive opponent to watch: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU. The AP third-team All-American from 2012 travels to Houston on Oct. 19. He decided to return to the Cougars for his senior season despite the possibility that he could have been selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft. Van Noy led a very strong BYU defense in 2012 by recording 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries, a school-record six forced fumbles, two interceptions, two blocked kicks, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns. He is the only player in the country to record a statistic in every major defensive category in each of the last two seasons. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder figures to be one of the best linebackers in the country this fall, and Houston cannot afford to take its eye off him when it has the ball.