Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Houston 34, Louisville 31

Only two games into the season, and Tom Herman already has a signature win under his belt: a road upset of the Louisville Cardinals. The Coogs and the Cards traded the lead throughout the fourth quarter, until Greg Ward Jr's 15-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Ayers with about three minutes left in the game put Houston up for good. Louisville tried to tie the game with a 53-yard field goal attempt, but it was partially blocked by the Cougars and fell short.

The Good: Brandon Wilson ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Cougar defense recovered two fumbles and intercepted Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson twice. They also held the Cardinal offense to a mere 70 rushing yards. Greg Ward completed 23 of 33 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns; he and running back Kenneth Farrow also combined for 207 rushing yards.

The Bad: Greg Ward's one interception was run back 59 yards and resulted in a Cardinal touchdown a few plays later. The defense struggled against backup Cardinal quarterback Kyle Bolin, who replaced Jackson in the third quarter. Kicker Kyle Bullard missed two field goals. And, even though the Cougars recovered four turnovers, they could only score three points off of them.

The Ugly: Houston was flagged seven times for 78 yards. This included a controversial targeting penalty on Howard Wilson, who was ejected from the game. Tom Herman was subsequently penalized 15 yards for bumping into a referee when he disagreed with the call. Louisville committed 9 penalties of their own for 80 yards. All in all, a sloppy game.

What it means: While this is not a monumental upset - Louisville was not ranked going into this game, and with a game against Clemson tomorrow night, they're staring 0-3 in the face - it is still a win on the road against a P-5 school that was favored by almost two touchdowns. This is something the Cougars have not accomplished since 2009. It's a significant step forward for a program that is rebuilding under a new coach, and it came way ahead of schedule.

Next up for the Coogs is a game against the Texas State Bobcats at TDECU Stadium on September 26th. Can UH exact revenge for the disaster that occurred three years ago? Moreover, coming off this in and against an in-state opponent that travels well, will fans pack TDECU stadium and shut the local whiners up?

Be there and find out!

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