Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Houston 33, Cincinnati 30

The Cougars faced their toughest test of the year in the rain last Saturday, but came away with a close victory after the Cougar defense forced four straight incompletions on Cincinnati's last possession.

The Good: The Cougar defense accounted for 9 of Houston's 33 points. Brandon Wilson intercepted Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. Kiel was also sacked in the endzone for a safety. UH special teams recovered a muffed Cincinnati punt, which would later lead to a score. The Cougar offense employed a clock-chewing, grind-it-out approach in the rain, amassing 266 yards on 66 carries and maintaining possession for 37 and a half minutes. Keeping the ball out of the hands of the Bearcat offense was a good idea, because...

The Bad: Kiel absolutely torched the Houston secondary for 523 passing yards and four touchdowns. Until the final series of the game, the Cougar defense simply had no answer for him and his receivers. Greg Ward threw two interceptions. Running back Ryan Jackson left the game with a broken collarbone and is out for the rest of the season. Cornerback William Jackson III suffered a knee injury and is probably going to miss the next two games.

The Ugly: The Bearcats amassed 11 penalties, three of which were unsportsmanlike conduct flags - including one on coach Tommy Tuberville - after a single play. The Cincinnati meltdown led to an easy Houston score. Another Houston touchdown, however, was called back on a highly-questionable offensive pass interference penalty.

What it Means: The Cougars remain undefeated and, at 9-0, have surpassed last season's win total. Next up is a home game against a ranked Memphis team whose own aspirations for an undefeated season came to an end last weekend against Navy. The Tigers will be angry, and if Memphis QB Paxton Lynch is anywhere as close as effective against the Houston secondary as Kiel was, the Cougars could be in for a long afternoon.

The Houston Press's John Royal (who appears to have borrowed the "good, bad, ugly" format from me!) has more.

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