UH, Rice: Is College Football Season Over Yet?
The Houston Cougars were destroyed on Thursday night. The Rice Owls blew a game they should have won on Saturday. The Owls loss is not surprising. The Cougars loss isn't really surprising, either, though the magnitude of the loss is.
How the mighty have fallen.
The Cougars (3-5) lost to the SMU Mustangs by a 72-42 score on Thursday night. The UH quarterbacks threw seven interceptions. Three of the interceptions were returned for a touchdown. Another interception resulted in a field goal. The Cougars fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, and that was returned for a touchdown. The Cougars fumbled the first punt of the first half, and several plays later, the Mustangs scored.
The Cougars have played some ugly football this season (for instance, revisit the opening game loss to Texas State). But there's losing, and there's getting your ass handed to you, and SMU handed UH its ass.
It's easy to blame the offense -- three interceptions returned for touchdowns -- and that's a good place to start. The quarterbacks looked awful. But they didn't have a lot of help from the line. And after starter David Piland was knocked out of the game with what appeared to be concussion-like symptoms, the team appeared to give up.
But the special teams were a joke. Kevin Sumlin once held a kicking contest during the season to find any person who could kick the ball through the uprights. Perhaps Tony Levine needs to hold a contest to find any person who can actually catch a kickoff or a punt, because nobody on the team was capable of doing that Thursday. And the defense made UT flameout Garret Gilbert look like a competent quarterback.
The Cougars return home and host UTEP (2-6) on Saturday afternoon. This is a winnable game for the Cougars, an easily winnable game. But whether the Cougars can pick up the easy win is questionable. Who's going to play quarterback? Piland is day-for-day at the moment. And neither backup Crawford Jones, now better known as a radio broadcaster for the Astros, or redshirt Bram Kohlhausen played with distinction on Thursday night.
The best option for the Cougars may just be to give the ball to Charles Sims over and over again - Sims was about the only bright spot in the loss to SMU. But UTEP should be keying on Sims. Just as UAB keyed on Sims two weeks ago. And SMU grabbing the big lead, thanks to their special teams and defense, pretty much kept the Cougars from exploiting Sims.