Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Houston 28, #17 South Florida 24

I have to admit that I wasn't expecting this. I didn't even watch the game; since I figured it would be a blowout, I opted to go the museum with my girlfriend and her mom instead. So yeah, I missed out on a tremendous upset, featuring an insane 4th-and-24 conversion late in the game.

The Good: The Cougars went with their third quarterback of the season, with positive results. D'Eriq King replaced an ineffective Kyle Postma behind center early in the game, and after a slow start to the first half - the Cougars were scoreless and had only 82 total yards of offense at halftime - King ended the game having completed 12 of 20 passes for 137 yards  and a touchdown. He also rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including an 11-yard scurry with 11 seconds left in the game to seal the win. Mulbah Car, who assumed RB duties for an injured Duke Catalon, amassed 137 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown of his own. Meanwhile the same Cougar defense that had been torched by the Memphis Tigers a week before held its own against USF, holding the previously undefeated Bulls to season lows in both rushing (137 total yards) and points scored. The UH defense held USF to just 7 of 23 third down conversion attempts (including six three-and-outs) and got two stops on fourth down.

The Bad: Aside from the slow start, the team suffered some critical injuries. In addition to the aforementioned Duke Catalon (ankle), offensive tackle John Jones (MCL sptrain), and kick returner John LeDay (concussion) had to leave the game. And although the UH defense did key in on the USF running game, they still had problems defending the Bulls' air attack: South Florida QB Quinton Flowers completed 23 of 38 passes for 325 yards (but, notably, no touchdown passes). The Cougars also suffered the game's only turnover.

The Crazy: Did I mention that the Coogs won this game because third-string quarterback D'Eriq King completed a jump ball pass to Courtney Lark on 4th-and-freakin'-24?!?!

What It Means: Aside from this being Houston's 7th victory over a ranked team in 8 tries (which makes that loss to Memphis all the more bitter), this game also breathes some life into a program that up to this point had been limping along. It also brings up some questions about the program's future, e.g. is D'Eriq King the next Greg Ward, Jr?

The Cougars host East Carolina on Saturday. They will become bowl-eligible with a win.

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