The Houston Cougars kicked off as a 13-point favorite against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday afternoon. And as with just about every other game in which the Cougars kicked off as a double-digit favorite, Houston was defeated in embarrassing fashion. This time the Cougars (4-2) lost by a 45-17 score to Tulsa (2-5). As has been the case just about the entire season, the Houston offense disappeared in the second half, but this time, the defense seemed unable to stop anything.
Tulsa lost by a 62-28 score to Tulane last week. Tulsa has also suffered losses to Toledo and New Mexico. Against the Cougars, Tulsa looked like the best team in the American Conference. This game was so ugly to watch that it can compete with losses like those to Texas State (Tony Levine’s first game as head coach) and to UTSA (the first ever game played at TDECU Stadium). There were no moral victories. There was nothing redeeming about the loss.
“We didn’t play well at all,” head coach Major Applewhite said. “We didn’t play well enough to win the game, but give credit to Tulsa and to Coach Montgomery. They came ready to play; we didn’t. We didn’t come ready to play and that’s on me. We talk about it all the time, but week in and week out, you’ve got be ready to play your A-game every Saturday.”
LACK OF KILLER INSTINCT: What was the worst aspect about this game? Was it the collapse of the defense? Maybe it was the continued inability of the offense to do anything in the second half. Maybe it was Houston being up 10-0 and moving toward an opportunity to make it 17-0 when there was a turnover that Tulsa scored off, making the halftime score 10-7 instead of 17-0.This turned the momentum around, excited Tulsa and put pressure on the Cougars to perform.
“I told [the team at the half] it’s interesting,” Applewhite said after the game. “You had an opportunity to take the game from them. You let them back in. They are excited in their locker room. They are feeling life. It’s going to be the team that plays well, takes care of the ball and tackles in the second half. We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the football and we didn’t do a good job of tackling in the second half.”
QB PLAY: Kyle Postma continued the struggles that UH has had at quarterback this season. He was only 25-for-41 for 258 yards with no touchdowns but two interceptions. And Postma, who has the ability to run with the ball, was able to gain only 26 yards.
DEFENSE? WHAT DEFENSE: Houston led the game 10-0 at one point. Houston lost 45-17. Some of that was due to the offense turning the ball over and giving Tulsa decent field position. But the Cougar defense still allowed a bad offense to generate 416 yards, with 288 of that coming from the ground. Last Saturday’s poor defensive performance against SMU was put on the fact that SMU ran a spread offense and that while spread offenses generate lots of yards, what matters is preventing the points. This week, UH didn’t stop the points.
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THE ASTROS WON: The game was played at the same time as the Astros game against the Yankees. One can hope this means that most of Houston was watching the Astros game and not paying attention to the Cougars. If this was so, maybe their viewpoint on the Cougars won’t be destroyed.
THE LONGHORNS LOST: On the plus side, UH fans, Texas and new head coach Tom Herman lost another football game. So maybe there’s some enjoyment that can be gained from that.
It’s a short week for the Cougars. Houston will host the 5-1 Memphis Tigers on Thursday, and Houston will definitely lose if it plays Memphis the way it did against Tulsa. UH might lose the game even if it plays much better because Memphis is one of the better teams in the American Conference. Memphis beat Navy 30-27 on Saturday.