Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Houston 45, Arizona 18

Kevin Sumlin returned to the University of Houston for the first time since the Southern Miss debacle of 2011. It didn't go well for him or his new team, the Arizona Wildcats.

The Good: Houston dominated this game. D'Eric King threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more as the Cougars racked up 551 yards of total offense. The Cougars were up 38-0 early in the third quarter. Meanwhile, heavily-hyped Arizona QB Khalil Tate was decidedly unimpressive. He did manage to rack up 348 passing yards, but completed no touchdown passes, was intercepted by UH defensive back Garrett Davis twice, and had a paltry eight rushing yards the entire afternoon. The defense also slammed the door on a potential Wildcat comeback in the fourth quarter with a goal line stand; The Wildcats came away with no points despite having the ball at the UH one yard line.

The Bad: The Cougars could have jumped out to an even bigger lead in the first half had the receivers not dropped some easy passes. The Coogs took their foot off the gas in the third quarter, allowing the Wildcats to score 16 quick points and threaten to rally. The defense allowed a total of 531 yards to Arizona's offense. As nice as the goal line stand in the fourth quarter was, the Coogs immediately followed it up with an ill-advised up-the-middle running play that the wildcats sniffed out in the endzone for a safety.

The Ugly: for the second week in a row, fans and players alike had to endure the brutal heat and humidity of an 11 am kickoff in September, because TV said so. As I said a year ago:
I realize that television dictates kickoffs, and that the regional exposure on ABC that Houston received during this time slot is generally good for the program. But I really wish the ESPN executives who make these decisions would make their way down here from Bristol, Connecticut to understand for themselves just how brutal these conditions really are. It's not just about fan comfort; it's about safety.
It's not just about safety for the fans, either. ABC's sideline reporters had a thermometer on the field that showed temperatures on the turf reaching 130 degrees. Requiring college athletes to play in that kind of heat just for the whims of TV scheduling seems almost immoral.

(I'm not sure why ABC/ESPN wanted this game on at 9 am Tucson, Arizona time in the first place. It seems like they'd get better viewership from the Wildcat faithful if they kicked off later in the day.)

What it means: The Cougars are now 2-0 and have a win over a Power 5 team that was supposed to be one of their tougher opponents coming into the season. It's also a satisfying victory over an old coach who left this program in the lurch.

Next up for Houston is a trip to Lubbock to face old SWC rival Texas Tech.

Ryan Monceaux has a good analysis of the game. ESPN's recap is here. The highlights video is here.

No comments: