Cardiac Coogs Test The Hearts Of Their Faithful

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Photo courtesy UH
It was just last month that Matt Hogan was the third-string kicker and back-up punter for the Houston Cougars. But after his 51-yard field goal soared through the goal posts as the clock reached 00:00 on Saturday night, it's very doubtful that Hogan will have to worry about winning another midweek kicking contest this season.

After the Cougars defeat of Tulane three weeks ago, head coach Kevin Sumlin held a kicking competition amongst all of the kickers on the team as he and his staff attempted to solve what was turning into one of the team's biggest problems, the kicking game. Hogan, a red-shirt freshman, emerged on top during that competition, and since then, he's been perfect, including going four-for-four on Saturday night as the Cougars completed another improbable comeback to defeat Tulsa 46-45.

The Coogs were down 45-37 with under a minute left to play in the game, but on third-and-goal and the clocking ticking down, Case Keenum did what he does best. He got the ball to one of his receivers, finding James Cleveland for the touchdown with just 21 seconds remaining on the clock to make the score 45-43 Tulsa.

The Cougars went for the two-point conversion and the tie, but the play failed. Enter Hogan. Hogan executed a fantastic onside kick that the Cougars recovered on their own 39-yard line. With time quickly ticking down, Keenum went two-for-three to move the Cougars to Tulsa's 34-yard line, allowing Hogan to come in and play the hero.

And play the hero he did as his kick easily cleared the middle of the goal posts to give the Cougars the 46-45 win.

But Hogan wasn't the only hero on the night. Keenum continued to impress any Heisman voters who are actually watching football and are not too busy kissing the asses of Florida's Tim Tebow or Texas's Colt McCoy as he went 40-for-60 for 522 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Patrick Edwards made the Golden Hurricanes defense look like a hurricane disaster zone as he caught 11 passes for 176 yards while James Cleveland caught 12 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

Then there were the special teams that continued to show just how damn special they really are. Tyron Carrier -- who was the victim of inept officiating in the first half when he supposedly muffed a punt that he never touched -- kept the game in reach when he returned a Tulsa kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to make the score 38-34 late in the third period as Tulsa was trying to put the game out of reach.

But ultimately it was Matt Hogan. Hogan was perfect on all of his extra-point and field-goal attempts, something that earlier this year Cougars fans probably thought was impossible.

And with the game on the line, with the Cougars' C-USA title hanging in the balance, it was Hogan, and not Keenum or Carrier, who came through with the biggest play of his career.

Hogan was so in control that, when interviewed on TV after the game, his response to how he was doing was a dry response more in the line of the unflappable Keenum than that of a kicker. "I'm doing awesome," he answered. "How are you?"

I'm not sure how the CBS College Sports announcers are doing, but I'm pretty sure Hogan's fellow players and the Cougar fans are doing just as awesome as he is. And just like that, the awesome Cougars are 8-1 on the season and 4-1 in conference play with just three regular season games to go. A regular season that continues in Orlando on Saturday as the Cougars do battle with the 5-4 (3-2) UCF Knights.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The Cougars truly control their own C-USA destiny. At 3-1, they are tied for first place in the C-USA's West Division, but they're tied with SMU whom the Cougars defeated. UTEP was upset by Tulane over the weekend, and the Coogs defeated Tulsa, so both of those schools are at 2-3 in conference play with Tulane 1-4 and Rice 0-5 bringing up the rear. If the Cougars just keep on winning, the C-USA West title will be theirs....Despite the awesomeness of Matt Hogan, the Cougars didn't much benefit in the polls. While they moved up to 12 in the Coaches' poll, they stayed at 13 in the AP and 15 in the all-important BCS.
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