Last Thursday was a busy night for local sports, with the Texans playing the Colts at NRG Stadium, the Astros in a playoff game against the Royals and Kansas City, and the Coogs hosting the SMU Mustangs at TDECU Stadium. After getting off to a slow start - SMU actually led for much of the first half - the Cougars rattled off 35 unanswered points to notch their fifth win of the season.
The Good: After getting torched by SMU for much of the first half - the Cougar defense surrendered 287 yards and three TDs to SMU in the first 24 minutes of the game - the defense forced fumbles on the next two SMU drives. Both turnovers were converted into touchdowns to put the Coogs ahead for good, and the defense shut down SMU's offense in the second half. Houston focused on their ground attack in this game, running the ball 48 times, and all seven Cougar touchdowns were rushing scores (four by quarterback Greg Ward, Jr and three by running back Kenneth Farrow). Ward also completed 16 of 18 passes for 243 yards; he hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in two games, but that hasn't mattered.
The Bad: Other than the slow start and a single Cougar fumble (which could probably have been ruled an incomplete pass instead), there really wasn't too much to be upset about. Except...
The Ugly: Three offensive linemen suffered injuries in this game; at least one, and probably two, are done for the season. Although it's suspicious for so many O-linemen to go down in a single game, there doesn't appear to be any definitive evidence that SMU's defense was intentionally trying to harm them so this is probably just a case of bad luck. Nevertheless, the offensive line is the weakest component of the UH offense and injuries like these are devastating.
What it means: With the win, the Cougars are 5-0 on the season and make their first appearance in the AP Top 25 since the 2011 season.
Next up for the Coogs is a trip to New Orleans to play Tulane in another nationally-televised game Friday night.