Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Houston 52, Navy 31

The Cougars won the AAC West title in convincing fashion last Saturday, manhandling 16th-ranked Navy in front of a sellout crowd at TDECU stadium.

The Good: Greg Ward Jr, who missed last week's loss to UConn with an injury, completed 26 of 35 passes for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Wilson, who was switched from cornerback to running back to take the place of an injured Kenneth Farrow, rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Demarcus Ayers had eight receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown, including a pair of highlight-reel catches. He also threw for a touchdown. The defense utterly smothered Navy's potent triple option, holding the Midshipmen to just 4 of 11 third down conversions and limiting Heisman hopeful Keenan Reynolds to 84 yards and one TD on 19 carries.

The Bad: Reynolds had a good day in the air, completing 13 of 16 passes for 312 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. That being said, Navy's preferred offense is not pass-oriented, and they were clearly out of their comfort zone.

The Ugly: Although Navy probably didn't need to be prolonging the inevitable by spiking the ball when they were down by 21 with less than a minute remaining, the smattering of boos from UH fans was uncalled for. You don't boo a service academy, folks!

What it Means: The Cougars will face Temple at TDECU Stadium for the American Athletic Conference Championship next Saturday. The winner will likely be the "Group of 5" representative to the "New Year's Six" group of prestigious bowls.

Thanks to the win, Houston also reappears in the College Football Playoff rankings at #19. Tom Fornelli at CBS Sports thinks the playoff committee is slighting them:
I'm not exactly enraged over this, but Houston just doesn't get enough credit for being 11-1 simply because it's in the American Athletic Conference. I know the AAC isn't a Power Five conference, but it currently has three teams ranked by the committee. It deserves a bit more respect than it gets.

This is a Houston team that not only beat a Navy team that was ranked No. 15 last week, but beat it by 21 points. Its sole loss (at 6-6 UConn) looks really bad, but it's important to realize the Cougars lost on the road without their starting quarterback.

So while I'm not going to sit here and say Houston should be in the top 10, at 11-1, with the season it has had, it certainly deserves to be higher than No. 19 if Navy was able to reach No. 15 last week.
More important to UH faithful is that head coach Tom Herman, who had been rumored to be in the running for other head coaching jobs around the nation, is apparently sticking around in Houston for a little while longer:
Houston Cougar head coach Tom Herman yesterday sought to set aside the rumors that he’s been considering leaving the University of Houston. Addressing the media in advance of Saturday’s American Athletic Conference title game, Herman stated that he and the school have agreed in principle to terms for a new contract.

“We have agreed in principle,” Herman said. “That is probably the best way to put it. We are working out the details of a contract, I don’t want to speak on any specifics, because those aren’t worked out yet, but we are moving in the right direction and have agreed in principle on the generalities of what is next."

“I’m here right now,” Herman continued. “And again, these things take twists and turns along the way as they sometimes do, but I don’t anticipate that happening. That is about all I am going to say about it.”
I'm not going to be completely comfortable about this until the contract is signed, nor am I under any illusion that Herman is going to stay at UH for more than a few more years. But it would have left a bad taste in my mouth if he had decided to move on after just one season. Thanks to him, this season has been successful beyond my imagination, and I think he can do greater things here if he stays a little while longer.

That includes a win over a tough Temple Owl team and a Conference Championship on Saturday.

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