MAKING A SPLASH

Holgorsen hire shows UH, Fertitta serious about playing with the big boys

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The Houston Cougars are making a big splash, hiring West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen to take over the football program.

Holgorsen, who spent eight years with the Mountaineers, is one of the best offensive minds in college football. He is a high profile hire that should get Houston back to the top of non-power 5 programs.

At first blush, it would appear to be a step down from a high-profile Big 12 program. But with the facilities, recruiting ground and vision at UH, the program is at worst a lateral move. UH is a top three Group of Five program (Boise and UCF being the others) and the program has a good national reputation. Holgorsen still has a home in Houston, should be able to recruit at a high level and win a lot of games. The question is would you rather be at a top 3 Group of Five or a top 40 Power Five? The path to New Year's Six games and possibly even the playoffs may indeed be the former.

Despite really awful takes like this one, the move once again proves that UH has high aspirations. They gave Major Applewhite two years, but the school never looked like the dominant group we saw under Tom Herman and Kevin Sumlin. Applewhite could be a good coach at a lower level, but the UH job was over his head. There was no indication of a big leap in Year 3.

Kudos to Tilman Fertitta, Chris Pezman and Renu Khator for recognizing that and correcting a mistake. Holgorsen should have instant success. Applewhite's failure - like a lot of coaches - was an inability to hire the right people, and he was not good enough to run an offense on his own in addition to being the head coach. Holgorsen can run an offense on his own. If he can get the right defensive coordinator, he has a chance to be an instant success.

He immediately becomes the best coach in the American Conference, and his offense will be good enough to play with anyone on the schedule. Winning at West Virginia is not easy considering the competition in the Big 12. He won't have to regularly compete with Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and company. It's hard to see losses to SMU and Temple under Holgorsen.

Holgorsen's deal will be for reportedly $4 million a year for five years. His buyout at West Virginia is just $1 million. He will be the highest paid coach in the Group of Five, another indication just how serious Houston is about competing at a high level. Since Fertitta has become involved, the program has had high aspirations. Fertitta has deep pockets and the kind of personality that gets attention. It's doubtful the school could lure a coach like Holgorsen without him.

This is without a doubt a high profile, big time hire and a home run move. With Holgorsen heading up the football program and Kelvin Sampson's success in basketball, the Cougars are on the right track, and the Holgorsen hire takes them to a new level. Could it backfire? Maybe. Holgorsen won roughly 60 percent of his games at West Virginia. But in an easier conference with a fertile recruiting ground, it would be surprising if he did not succeed.

There are no negatives to this move. Cougar fans should be excited.

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The Coogs nearly upset #16 SMU, but ultimately fell short. This was the only game in the AAC this week that didn't have a 40+ point scorer. Let's take a look at what Week Nine in the AAC looked like:

UH loses by three to ranked SMU

In a game in which they outgained #16 SMU by 125 total yards and won time of possession by a shade over three minutes they still lost 34-31. The main culprits were turnovers (they had a -2 margin) and penalty yards (11 accepted penalties for 129 yards). Twice this game a turnover led directly to touchdowns for SMU, both on very short fields. Games like this make me think if there were more senior leadership, these mistakes wouldn't happen. That said, they still could've won this game. Next year and the coming years look promising. Clayton Tune outperformed Shane Buechele at the quarterback spot this game. Dare I say, there may be a bit of controversy going into next year when D'Eriq King returns?

Other key results

Navy 41, Tulane 38: Tulane is on a two game losing streak, while Navy extended their win streak to four games. They're two ships passing in the night. One is ascending, the other descending. Both will most likely make a bowl game, but they'll make different levels of bowl games.

UCF 63, Temple 21: In a matchup of two 5-2 teams coming into this game, I fully expected a much different result. The Golden Knights ended up rolling the Owls and looked much like the team from the past few years who dominated this conference, while Temple looked like their historical average to below average selves.

Memphis 42, Tulsa 41: Tulsa took this game down to the final seconds and almost pulled off the upset, but missed a 29-yard field goal. Coming into this game, Memphis was 6-1 and Tulsa was 2-5. This would've knocked Memphis down a few pegs in bowl jockeying position. Tulsa is playing out the strings of their season and trying to play spoiler, and almost did.

Stars of the week

UCF Running Backs: Otis Anderson had a career high 205 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown; Bentavious Thompson had 10 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns; Adrian Killins Jr totaled 52 yards and a touchdowns on four carries. 344 yards on 31 carries and four touchdowns was a helluva job by these three guys.

Kevin Mensah, RB, UConn: 19 carries for 164 yards for a 8.6 yards per carry average is one thing...but five touchdowns?!? This was against UMass in a 56-35 win, but still, five touchdowns is still five touchdowns.

Marquez Stevenson, WR, UH: Five catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns, including a 96 yard touchdown to draw the score within three points. His yardage total was almost a third of his season total, as well as a third of his touchdown total for the season.

Games to watch this week

SMU @ Memphis

UH @ UCF

Cincinnati @ ECU

Tulsa @ Tulane

Players to watch this week

Clayton Tune, UH: After throwing for 407 yards and almost upsetting the #16 team in the country. UCF has been the top dog in the conference the last few years. Let's see what Tune can do against the Golden Knights.

Xavier Jones, SMU: In a matchup of ranked teams with good running backs, I'm looking to see if Jones can continue his nearly two touchdown per game pace against Memphis.

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Ditto here. Gainwell has 115 more rushing yards than Jones, but three less touchdowns on the season. Whoever wins this battle most likely wins this high profile game.

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