Oh Yeah, and the Cougars Win Back the Bayou Bucket

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Photo by Aaron Sprecher
Just another record-breaking night for the Cougars.
Check out our slideshow of last night's rainy Bayou Bucket game.

Houston's Tyron Carrier took the opening kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown to quickly put the Cougars up 7-0. Then the rain hit and the Rice Owls came out in the wildcat offense, with Turner Petersen and Tyler Smith running the ball up the middle of the UH offense. Rice was up 17-7 by the time rain stopped, and they appeared to be up by that score when the first quarter ended.

But a pass interference penalty was called on Rice, giving the Cougars one last play in the first quarter. And Case Keenum located Patrick Edwards speeding away from Rice's Bryce Callahan and the score was 17-14 Rice. Rice got one more field goal to lead 20-14. But by the time the half rolled around, the Cougars were up 38-20 and the question wasn't whether the Cougars would hold on to win the game. The question was just how badly the Coogs would kick Rice's ass.

The answer was bad, very badly. In as the Cougars had a record-breaking night. Keenum set the NCAA record for career TD passes on Houston's first possession of the third quarter. Carrier's opening kickoff return tied the NCAA record for TDs on kickoff returns, and Carrier set the team's career record for receptions. Edwards set his career-high with five TD receptions, and he tied the UH record for career-touchdown receptions of 34 (tied Elmo Wright). Keenum set his career record with nine TDs in a game (tying David Klingler for second place). And that was all before the fourth quarter got under way, with the Cougars up 66-34 in a game they would win 73-34.

By the time the game ended, Keenum and Edwards had connected five times for touchdowns. Keenum finished 24-for-37 with 534 yards and nine touchdowns. Patrick Edwards finished with seven receptions for 318 yards and five touchdowns. Those five TD receptions set a C-USA record. And by the time Keenum and Edwards exited the game midway through the fourth quarter, one wouldn't be blamed for wondering if there was a mercy rule for NCAA football.

"That was fun," Keenum said. "That was a blast. That's probably the most fun I've ever had playing football."

And Carrier said he's been waiting this whole season for the kickoff return record, then credited the rest of his special teams' crew for setting the play up so that he wasn't even touched on the return, finishing up something that's been close for several games.

"It's been a hard time, actually," Carrier said of tying the kick return record. "We've been that close for the past four weeks in a row...one block away."

The Cougars inflicted a lot of the damage by taking advantage of the Owls' inability to cover any of the UH receivers, especially Edwards. But the Owls offense, and by extension, the Rice coaching staff, deserve a lot of the blame for the carnage. The Cougars were obviously not prepared for the wildcat formation the Owls were running, and were unable to stop a Rice offense running plays at a quick, efficient tempo that found QB/RB Turner Petersen and running back Tyler Smith slashing and dicing the UH defense. But then Rice, for some unknown reason, went back to their conventional offense and accomplished absolutely nothing as the Cougars caught up and took control of the game.

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The Owls had a plan that worked, for just a little bit, that is.

"We were going up against a good offensive football team, led by a senior quarterback, and they were just able to make plays every time they had to, and we couldn't make plays that we needed to stop them," Bailiff said. "We had some opportunities, but didn't get it done."

"I thought our offensive game plan was good," Bailiff continued later. "But we've just got to continue working on our execution."

And execution might be the best word to describe what Houston did to Rice. The Cougars adjusted defensively to what Rice was doing, whether running the wildcat or alternating between Petersen, Taylor McHargue and Nick Fanuzzi at quarterback, and started tossing around the Owls the way a cat does a dead bird. And the UH offense, which was very ineffective the first few times it touched the ball, just took off and never, ever, looked back.

"The rain started coming down," Sumlin said. "It came down pretty hard. It was really raining. Balls were flopping around everywhere. We turned the ball over twice in the red zone. They scored on one. We set them up. We gave them 14 points. Really, really, in the first half, the defense gave two field goals after that. We were able to hit our stride after the rain calmed down....We hung in there. We took a good punch early. Fought through some of our own mistakes. The defense rose up early in the first half and did a decent job and kept points off of the board, and we were able to score."

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10 comments
Irena11
Irena11

But Southern Miss still has to win the East, which they should, and if UH wins out in the West, then the game will be at Robertson Stadium where the home field advantage should work in the Cougars favor.

Lolita
Lolita

But Southern Miss still has to win the East, which they should, and if UH wins out in the West, then the game will be at Robertson Stadium where the home field advantage should work in the Cougars favor.

John Royal
John Royal

And though late, I wanted to note that the Cougars weren't the only ones setting records last night. The 97-yard 3rd quarter TD run by Rice's Tyler Smith was the longest TD run in C-USA history, as well as Rice history. Smith's 243 all-purpose yards and 170 rushing yards were his career highs.

big red
big red

Should UH beat SMU, and I think that game is a toss-up, they would have a difficult time against Southern Miss, who runs very effectively the offense that gave UH fits. Plus, they have a very, very strong defense.

UH staying undefeated in conference play is not a given.

Assign no lower limit
Assign no lower limit

That sounds like Rice. Start out with a good offensive plan, then don't play defense, allowing the other team to score at will, and then change your offensive plan to give the other team more time of possession, and hence, more opportunities to score at will.

Fire everyone -- they are all a waste of money -- and go D-III now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

Carrier's opening return notwithstanding, I thought the Owls came out with the right gameplan to beat the Coogs.  Obviously executing it is easier said than done, but the Owls' wildcat running sets were gashing Houston but good, and they keyed in on the Cougars' short-pass-and-run game, leaving the deep ball open in the rain.  The Owls capitalized on the wet conditions, grabbing a couple of turnovers and converting their chances.  By the middle of the second quarter, of course, the Cougars' defense adjusted and began shutting down the runs up the middle.  When the ball dried off enough, Keenum and Edwards burned the Owls badly deep.  Rice made a bad decision when they lost the lead to try to keep up by throwing the ball.  That was never going to happen.  All in all, it was a fun, wet game and the Bayou Bucket should continue.  It's pathetic that Rice couldn't muster 100 fans to show up, but I'm sure they were not looking forward to the massacre.  

John Royal
John Royal

Big Red, I do agree somewhat, especially if something should happen and UH has to play Southern Miss in Southern Miss because UH is a bit of a different team on the road.  But Southern Miss still has to win the East, which they should, and if UH wins out in the West, then the game will be at Robertson Stadium where the home field advantage should work in the Cougars favor.

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

Assuming the title game is played at Robertson, I like the Cougars' chances a lot vs. Southern Miss.

John Royal
John Royal

Rice puzzled me last night like they've puzzled me all season.  They get something that works on offense, and that wildcat was working, then they immediately get away from it.  It's almost like they're afraid of success. I'm also suprised they kept with the blitz while leaving Edwards and Carrier in single coverage against guys that had no hopes of covering them.

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