The UH/AAC Report

Houston in control of their own destiny: UCF and USF avoid upset

Ed Oliver ends sack drought. Photo via Houston Cougar Football/Facebook

Houston 42, ECU 20

The Cougars went into Greenville, NC on Saturday still hot from their late game-winning rally vs Tulsa. Houston started with a typical up tempo Kendal Briles opening drive, where QB D’Eriq King threw to WR Courtney Lark for a 38-yard TD. The Cougar defense then held ECU to another three and out and gave the ball back to King, where he led his offense to the end zone after another long drive, and scored via rushing TD from the Pirate 8-yard line with 8 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Houston defense showed up even bigger this game and continue to show that they are peaking at the right time. LB Emeke Egbule intercepted a batted pass from ECU’s QB Reid Herring, which was converted into another TD throw from King and resulted in the Cougars leading 21-3 at the half.

ECU drove to the Houston 16 on their second half opening possession, but were halted by the Cougar defense yet again, and were forced to kick a field goal cutting the difference to 21-6. Houston’s Heisman candidate Ed Oliver finally ended his 2018 sack drought in a pivotal manner by forcing ECU to fumble the football in their own territory, only to be picked up by Egbule and run in for a defensive touchdown, which resulted in a 28-6 lead with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The offense continued to pile on with two more touchdowns, one being a flashy trick play passing TD from QB Bryson Smith to WR Keith Korbin, leading the Cougars to a score of 42-6 with 11 minutes left in the game. Much of the fourth quarter saw the second string Houston defense, which allowed ECU to score 14 points in garbage time.

The Houston defense yet again proves that they are able to force turnovers in the right moments. They intercepted the ball three times and forced a fumble. Egbule had another outstanding game, with an INT and fumble recovery for a touchdown. Oliver also had another monster game with five tackles for loss and two sacks. The offense is very effective because of this one overlooked component, the offensive line, who has only allowed one sack and 19 tackles for loss through five games, ranking them fifth nationally. ECU drops to 2-4 and will play the 19-0 UCF Golden Knights. Houston improves to 5-1 and travels to Annapolis, MD this week to face a 2-4 Navy team. UH is now in control of their own destiny and keep their AAC championship title hopes alive.

Houston is ranked second in the nation in total offense with 582 yards per game.

Ed Oliver leads all defensive linemen in the nation with 8 tackles per game, despite being double and triple teamed.

King went 13 of 23, threw for 209 passing yards, and had three total TDs.

UCF 31, Memphis 30

Two of the most compelling offenses in the AAC went at it in rainy Memphis on Saturday, both who possess Heisman hopefuls in Tigers’ RB Darrell Henderson, and the No. 10 ranked Golden Knights’ QB McKenzie Milton. This game had upset written all over it from the beginning. The Memphis offense dominated UCF throughout the first half by scoring 31 points, against UCF’s 17. But the UCF defense adjusted so well, that they shut out the Memphis explosive offense in the entire second half. McKenzie Milton displayed his Heisman quality athleticism as he went airborne for what was the game winning TD, finishing a 14-point comeback with 12 minutes left in the clock. Do not be fooled, much of this game was attributed to the rain and its impacts on the passing game, where UCF went 2 for 12 in third down efficiency. Memphis is a tough opponent, especially at home and with a workhorse like Henderson, who finished with 31 carries, 199 rushing yards, and 1 TD. They even had a valiant effort in attempting a comeback to try and set up a game winning field goal, but the Tigers ran out of time as the final catch wasn’t taken out of bounds to stop the clock.  In the end, Milton came through for the Golden Knights by going 17 of 29, with 296 passing yards, and 1 TD, leading his team to an unbeaten 19-0 streak. Memphis falls to 4-3 on the season and will face Missouri next. While UCF will head to Greenville, NC and face a not so impressive ECU team.

USF 25, Tulsa 24

No. 23 USF climbed in the rankings two spots after their close win in Oklahoma. The Bulls uncharacteristically struggled offensively vs Tulsa. Golden Hurricane QB Seth Boomer had an awful day vs the USF defense, where he went 6 of 21, had 79 passing yards, 0 INT, and 1 TD. USF had difficulty taking advantage of the weak opposing quarterback play until the fourth quarter, where QB Blake Barnett began to set up what would be a clutch comeback win. Barnett took matters in his own hands by driving in two rushing TDs, but failing to convert a game tying 2-point conversion with two minutes left on the clock. USF got the football back with 48 seconds left, where Barnett once again showed how USF is an offense capable of exploding at a moment’s notice. He made a couple of long throws down the field that set up a chip shot, game winning, 22-yard field goal. USF remains perfect and improves to 6-0, while Tulsa continues to lose control in the 4th quarter, dropping to a record of 1-5. USF will play a weak UConn team next.

Other AAC Results

Temple 24, Navy 17

 

 

Teams on BYE week

#20 Cincinnati (Prior rank #25), Tulane, SMU, UConn

Stats available via UH Cougar Football.

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Chestnut finished with 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Photo by Ken Hoffman.

You were impressed by Tiger Woods playing 18 playoff holes on a broken leg to win the 2008 U.S. Open?

How about Muhammad Ali fighting 11 rounds with a broken jaw against Ken Norton in 1973?

Kirk Gibson limping around the bases on an injured leg after belting a game-winning homer in the 1988 World Series?

Or Cosmo Kramer taking over the wheel of a runaway bus, fighting off a mugger and continuing to make all the stops?

Sure there have been legendary displays of courage under pressure, but nothing will compare to the raw guts and intestinal magnificence that Joey “Jaws” Chestnut displayed Sunday while winning his 15th title in the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

Chestnut entered the event at a disadvantage with his foot in a boot due to a ruptured tendon. Competitors were salivating at the chance to face a hobbled champion. Or perhaps it was the aroma of freshly grilled hot dogs that got their digestive juices flowing.

Then, as Chestnut was grabbing for his 11th HD&B (hot dog and bun), a protestor wearing a Darth Vader mask and carrying a sign reading “Expose Smithfield’s Deathstar” rushed the stage and bumped into Chestnut.

Smithfield is the biggest producer of pork products in America and has been accused of less than humane conditions on its pig farms in Utah. Chestnut reacted swiftly, grabbing the protestor in a rear naked choke that would make UFC champ Charles Oliveira envious.

The incident took only seconds, Chestnut barely broke his stride, and finished with 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes. His total was far below the record 76 franks he consumed last year, but still 20 dogs ahead of his nearest rival. It was Chestnut’s 15th title overall in Coney Island, a record that is unrivaled in major sports. Only Rafael Nadal’s 14 championships at the French Open tennis tournament is close.

Point of clarification and confusion. While the protestor referenced Smithfield’s pork production facility, Nathan’s hot dogs are 100-percent beef. Also, the Nathan’s skinless hot dogs you buy in supermarkets are not the same natural casing dogs you get at Nathan’s restaurant on the corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island. Nathan’s brand does produce natural casing dogs for supermarkets, but they’re expensive and difficult to find. I settle for Boar’s Head.

I’ve had several up close and personal experiences with the mighty Chestnut. I was his official “judge” and hot dog counter at five of his Coney Island victories. Plus I was his assistant at the 2009 World Kolache Eating Contest at Minute Maid Park. I carried his jug of Kool-Aid to the field and made sure his contractual needs were met. Chestnut won the kolache clash, downing 45 sausage kolaches in eight minutes. It was a tighter finish than expected as Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti threatened Chestnut right to the bitter end by inhaling 42 of the bready breakfast pastries.

The day before, I conducted an exhaustive 2-hour interview with Chestnut on radio. I didn’t hold back with my questions. Yes, I went there. His answer was … around 3 or 4 a.m. and it ain’t pretty.

This year’s event wasn’t the first time there was civil disobedience at the Nathan’s Famous July 4 Hot Dog Contest.

In 2009, legendary Japanese competitor Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobyashi attempted to disrupt the event, considered the World Series of competitive eating, by challenging Chestnut to a showdown. Kobyashi had been barred from entering that year’s contest because he refused to sign an exclusive contract with the sponsoring Major League Eating group. With the crowd chanting “let him eat” Kobyashi went all Clubber Lang on Chestnut, yelling and screaming, questioning the champion’s courage and appetite for competition among other things.

Was it a publicity stunt? Did contest organizers know about Kobyashi’s plan? Nobody knows now and New York City police didn’t know then. They arrested Kobyashi for trespassing, resisting arrest and “obstructing government administration.” Police hauled his inexplicably skinny butt away kicking and flailing.

Before they could stuff Koby in the back of a paddy wagon, one of Kobyashi’s stray kicks struck my son who was watching in the VIP section. Prior to this, his favorite brush with celebrity was getting his hero Jeff Bagwell’s autograph at Minute Maid Park. Getting booted by Kobyashi was 10x cooler.

In 2017, animal rights protestors attempted to rush the stage. Thwarted by security, they threw red paint on spectators. I was on the stage during the disturbance. Later I learned that one of my entourage, wearing a souvenir Coney Island T-shirt, was splattered by the paint. He was not happy. I said, “Are you kidding? That shirt is a piece of history now. It belongs in the Smithsonian. Or in a Tide commercial.”

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