The Battle of the Cougars was as exciting as the score indicated, but it ended in a disappointing one-point loss for the guys in red.
The Good: Demarcus Ayers ran a kickoff return 99 yards for a touchdown. The defense intercepted BYU quarterback Taysom Hill 3 times, including one pick returned for a touchdown. The defense also sacked him a whopping eight times, including once in the endzone for a safety. Greg Ward found Xavier Maxwell for a beautiful 69-yard touchdown pass, and Daniel Spencer caught a highlight reel, 41-yard touchdown pass from John O'Korn.
The Bad: O'Korn, who took most of the snaps behind center, did not have his best afternoon; he was 29 for 45 with 363 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions: once on the very first play from scrimmage, and once at the very end, to seal the win for BYU. The UH running game was non-existent: the O-line continues to struggle mightily blocking for the run and the Coogs could only manage 46 total rushing yards the entire afternoon. As well as the defense did in some aspects of the game, they were still torched for 417 passing yards - BYU's receivers on the corners were wide-open all afternoon long - and gave up 264 yards on the ground. Houston had first and goal at the six yard line but came away without any points; I'm still concerned about playcalling at the endzone. Also, the Cougars (the Houston ones) committed 10 penalties for 88 yards (the BYU Cougars, meanwhile, committed 14 penalties for 125 yards; this was not a clean football game by any stretch of the imagination).
Finally, kicker Richie Leone missed two field goals, and Markeith Ambles dropped a perfectly-thrown pass on a two-point conversion. Make any one of those scores and Houston wins this game.
What it means: If you just looked at the stats, you would have thought that BYU won this game in a rout. Indeed, after O'Korn was intercepted on the first play from scrimmage and the Mormons ran out to a quick 10-0 lead, it was looking that way. But the Coogs battled back and played competitively. I'm not really a fan of moral victories, especially since UH blew their opportunities by making so many mistakes, but they played tough. This is a young team, and they will learn from this experience.
The Cougars are now 5-1, but are still undefeated in American Athletic Conference play. Next up for the Cougars is a road trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey to play Rutgers.