The Houston Cougars defeated the 1-5 SMU Mustangs 49-28 last night. That pushes the UH record to 5-0 on the season, and maybe now it’s time for the question to be asked: are the Cougars for real? And if the team is real, does anyone in Houston really care?
It wasn’t a perfect UH game last night. SMU held the lead for large parts of the first half, and the Cougars had trouble containing the Mustang running game. But once UH was able to force a couple of turnovers late in the second quarter, it was like a switch being suddenly flipped to the on-position. The Cougars stormed back from a 21-14 deficit to grab the 28-21 half time lead, then kept on piling on the points in the second half to put the game out of reach.
UH put up 457 yards of offense with 214 coming by run and 243 by pass. Greg Ward, Jr. was a passing and running machine. Kenneth Farrow rushed for three touchdowns and 40 yards while Demarcus Ayers hauled in seven passes for 91 yards. The defense forced three SMU turnovers. It was domination.
This might all be lost in the attention being paid to the spectacular dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans; at least it’s understandable that people are glued to the Astros. But damn it people, this is an exciting Houston Cougars football team. Greg Ward, Jr.’s become a major threat at quarterback, which shows just what can happen when you give the QB a quarterback coach. And the defense might bend at times, but it has carried on in the tradition of the past several years in finding ways to force turnovers at the most opportune of times.
“Whether the offense would have sparked themselves or gotten on track themselves, you never know,” head coach Tom Herman said after the game. “I don’t know if we needed [the defense to spark things], but the fact that they did get those turnovers and breath some life into the offense I think was really, really pivotal.”
But here’s the thing Houstonians: you have got to start coming out to see this team. It’s a young team. It’s an exciting team. The offense puts up tons of points. This is the team that should play before a packed house every week. This is the team that should be dominating attention on the talk shows and on television, not that mess that pretends to play professional football over at NRG Stadium. And yet there were only 25,204 fans at TDECU Stadium last night, about two-thirds full for a fun, entertaining, and dominating win. And that just doesn’t make any sense.
Yes, the Astros were playing last night. Yes, it was on a Thursday night and started at 7:00 which made it difficult for people to get to the stadium during rush hour. And yes, the Texans were playing over at NRG Stadium, and for some reason, Houstonians refuse to hold that team accountable though at some point one’s got to think that not even J.J. Watt commercials will be enough to garner support for a team that’s more than happy to be mediocre as long the money rolls in to Bob McNair.
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It’s probably hard to tell right now just how good the Cougars really are. The competition hasn’t been that great. But it should be a good indicator that the Cougars have totally dominated the competition so far. The offense is running on all cylinders. The defense is making stops and forcing turnovers.
So come on and jump on the Houston Cougars bandwagon. The students have already jumped on board, having packed the student section for every game this year. So now it’s time for the adults, the alums, the rest of Houston to start showing up. And people, it’s a fun time. Take the game last night where Ward became the sixth player in team history to rush for four touchdowns in a game — his teammate Kenneth Farrow rushed for three more. But that’s not all. Ward also passed for 243 yards while rushing for 82. Ward also has 11 rushing touchdowns for the season which ties him with LSU’s Leonard Fournette for the FBS lead.
“Holy smokes,” Herman said about Ward. “The kid’s turning into a quarterback right before our eyes. Like I said last week, I think he’s just scratching the surface right now…His attempts in the run game are a little bit too high for my liking, to be quite honest with you…but usually very good things happen when he [runs]….But to finish 16-for-18 [passing] for 243 yards — 16-for-18’s pretty good in my book.”
The next two UH games are on the road, so fellow Houstonians, you have until October 31 to set things right. The Cougars are hosting Vanderbilt on Halloween, so come on and pack the stadium and watch the most exciting football team in the city of Houston play. You’ve probably forgotten how much fun it can be to watch a good football game. The Cougars are finally giving you that chance.