I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss anytime, but this game really should not have been this close.
The Good: QB John O'Korn had another strong outing, completing 22 of 27 passes for 263 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, one of which as a beautiful 48-yard strike to Deontay Greenberry. On the ground, Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow combined for 105 yards and a touchdown apiece on 16 carries. The Cougar defense recorded three sacks (knew of which led to a turnover), one interception and held South Florida's rushing attack to only 53 yards. An alert UH special teams unit recovered a surprise USF onside kick attempt in the 3rd quarter.
Oh, and the black uniforms the Coogs wore for Halloween night. Those were pretty cool.
The Bad: South Florida quarterback Mike White, a freshman making his very first start, torched the Houston defense to the tune of 311 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Jackson fumbled the ball into the end zone for a USF touchback, a poorly-fielded punt was also fumbled and recovered by the Bulls, and Kenneth Farrow committed a rather stupid personal foul penalty that killed a Houston drive. The Cougars struggled against the 2-5 Bulls the entire game and didn't put it away until late in the fourth quarter.
The Ugly: Although it ended up helping the Cougars, South Florida's team was woefully lacking in discipline. The Bulls committed an astounding 19 penalties for 170 yards, including a rather generous offensive pass interference call on what would have been USF's go-ahead touchdown.
What it Means: This game, on a short week of rest, in front of a small crowd on Halloween night, and with a huge showdown against Central Florida looming, really had "trap" written all over it. The Cougars were able to survive and have secured themselves a winning season. But they will need to play better when they face the conference's best team in Orlando next Saturday, lest they be blown out.