Thursday, September 08, 2016

Starting off right: #15 Houston 33, #3 Oklahoma 23

The Houston Cougars made a statement to the nation by beating the Oklahoma Sooners before a capacity crowd of 71,016 at NRG Stadium last Saturday.

Ward escapes, and Linell Bonner makes an amazing catch
The Good: The Cougar offense wasn't at 100% of its effectiveness in this game, but it still got the job done. Greg Ward Jr was 23 of 40 for 321 yards and two touchdowns, but his accuracy wasn't perfect and he wasn't helped by several drops from his receivers. What's more, the Sooners contained him such that he only had a single net yard rushing the entire game. It didn't matter. Thanks to some amazing catches and 88 yards on 22 carries from new running back Duke Catalon (he also caught a touchdown pass), the Coogs outgained the Sooners and held onto the ball for 35 minutes. Steven Dunbar led all receivers with 7 catches for 125 yards, and tight end Tyler McCloskey caught a touchdown. Aside from a few false start penalties, the only glaring mistake by the offense was a goal-line fumble late in the game.

Sooner RB Samaje Perine meets Cougar safety Garrett Davis
The Better: The defense played havoc with the Sooners. Oklahoma QB Brandon Mayfield had a decent afternoon, completing 24 of 33 passes for 32 yards and two touchdowns, but he also ran into some trouble with the Houston defense. Ed Oliver, the highly-rated true freshman defensive tackle, made things difficult for Mayfield and the Sooner backfield with 7 tackles and two sacks. Oklahoma's heralded running attack of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine was limited to 71 total yards rushing and one touchdown. The Coogs also forced two Sooner turnovers.

The Best: Brandon Wilson's kick six, which turned the tide of the game and which will go down as one of the biggest single plays in University of Houston football history:

What it Means: With the win, the Coogs are now ranked #6 in the AP Poll and #7 in the Coaches Poll. Houston is now officially a contender for the College Football Playoff. And now that Houston - having beaten top ten teams back-to-back for the first time in program history - has proven that it can hang with the big boys, the pressure is on the Big XII to either add the Coogs to their conference or account for their cowardice.

This was Houston's first win over a #3 team since they beat Texas in 1984. The Houston Press and's Pete Fiutak have more reaction, while Bleacher Report hands out grades. Next up for the Coogs is their true home opener on Saturday, against FCS Lamar.

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