HOUSTON (CBS Sports) – Cameron Malveaux walks around with a black T-shirt with a single phrase lettered across the chest: “Third Ward Defense.”

The Third Ward is where the University of Houston sits. It’s the second-poorest neighborhood in the nation’s fourth-most populated city. As Maleveaux, a senior defensive end, puts it, “the Third Ward is kind of rough.” So while those shirts might state a location, they mean a little bit more to the Houston Cougars.

“The Third Ward defense is who we are,” Malveaux told 247Sports.

Ranked ninth nationally in total defense and third against the run, Houston’s defenders are the blunt end of the axe the Cougars swing at people every week. The offense, the blade that delivers the cuts, gets most of the attention, but it’s the defense that’s provided the weight for the 8-2 Cougars.

It’s also the unit that might have the best chance of slowing down No. 5 Louisville and Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson. The two teams meet Thursday at 7 p.m. (ESPN).

Jackson, a supernova of the sport, is virtually untouchable. At least it’s looked that way in 2016.

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