We've previously emphasized how turnover margin is the statistic that most easily correlates with wins and losses, and Houston was on the right end of that metric in 2015. The Cougars finished second nationally in Tom Herman's first season, gaining 35 while losing only 14. That +1.5 per game turnover margin helped them muster a 13-1 record, an American championship and a Peach Bowl win. In fact, the top five teams in gross turnover margin finished a combined 59-10 with four conference championships last season, and the fifth team -- Navy -- only failed to win their conference because they shared one with Houston.
But there was a fair amount of luck that aided Houston's No. 2 finish.
The Cougars forced 21 fumbles and hopped on 14 of them -- good for a 66.7% fumble recovery rate, which tied for third nationally. That magnetic attraction to the ball helped Houston recover the third-most number of total fumbles while only ranking 40th in forced fumbles.
On the flip side of that, Houston coughed up 19 fumbles of its own last season, which ranked a very un-Houston like 69th in the country, but they lost only seven of them. The Cougars lost only 36.8% of their own fumbles, good for 25th in FBS.
Fumbles are generally regarded as a 50-50 proposition. There's just no way to control the way that oblong egg will bounce once it's on the carpet, so to assume Houston will finish so far on the correct side of the 50% mark on each side is, well, optimistic.
There is one way to ensure good fumble luck in 2016, though: don't fumble the ball. At all.
Tom Herman discussed how he's emphasizing ball security this season, and it comes with some Urban Meyer-esque psychology ploys.