While the Cougars did get out of Starkville with a victory a year ago, and have a three-game winning streak against Mississippi State this decade, Saturday night's game represents a huge threat to Houston's program-record 18-game home winning streak. While juniors Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards contribute to a still-talented receiving corps, there isn't a receiver as reliable over the middle as Cleveland. Against a tough SEC defense, the Coogs are going to need all of the offensive weapons they can muster. The Cougars have now lost their top quarterback (Case Keenum, injury), receiver (Cleveland, suspension) and running back (Charles Sims, academic ineligibility) since the last time they played the Bulldogs.
However, if this sort of thing must happen, it is fortunate that it happened before a non-conference opponent. No matter what happens, the Cougars will be 2-0 in Conference USA play when they head across town to take on Rice next weekend.
It's no secret that Cleveland left the University of Iowa under less-than-ideal circumstances after displaying all-Big Ten Freshman Team production, so one just hopes that this isn't a relapse into some bad behaviors. I'll be breathing a huge sigh of relief if I see him on the sidelines against the Owls.