The UH/AAC Report

Houston makes Navy retreat and has an opportunity to knock off No. 21 USF

The UH offense was able to sink Navy. Photo via Houston Cougar Football Facebook

The weekly UH/AAC report:

Houston 49, Navy 36

UH traveled to Annapolis, MD on Saturday looking for their sixth win of the season and in an attempt to halt Navy’s elusive triple option run scheme. The Midshipmen dominated on the ground the entire first half, something they have done all season, ranking them third in rushing nationally. Consequently, Navy precisely controlled the time of possession battle with 42 minutes vs Houston’s 17. But for every Midshipmen rushing attack, the Cougars had a quick answer in QB D’Eriq King, who ended the game 25 of 38, 413 yards, and three total touchdowns, earning AAC Offensive Player of the Week honorable mentions. Jim Nantz, a UH alumnus, joined the broadcast booth to watch his Cougars and even called a 17-yard King rushing touchdown. Nantz was in the area prepping to call Sunday’s Cowboys vs. Redskins game at nearby FedEx field. The first half was entertaining, both teams traded blows and lit up the score board in a staggering manner, ending with Navy leading 24-21.

Houston adjusted greatly in the second half, where they went on an onslaught of 35 unanswered points, and an equally impressive defensive showing by Ed Oliver and company.  Senior Linebacker Austin Robinson had another monster game, where he led the team with 21 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks earning him AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors. Ed Oliver had 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack, but was later sidelined as a precautionary measure due to an illegal chop block in the fourth quarter. But the most impressive thing about Houston was that they won the physicality battle against a military academy team. Not easy to do. They set the tone early in the second half, and constricted a tough Navy team that was seemingly scoring at will in the first.

Cougars’ WRs also showed up big despite having a couple of drops in the early parts of the game. Marquez Stevenson, Courtney Lark, and Keith Corbin each had 100+ receiving yards. The offensive line continues to be a fortress for King, where they have only allowed one sack in the last five games.

Houston is set to host No. 21 USF, one of five unbeaten teams in the FBS, and the Bulls possess dangerous weapons in QB Blake Barnett and RB Jordan Cronkite, who has had five straight 100+ rushing yards per game. UH improves to 6-1 in the season.

Houston is ranked third in scoring offense, and fourth in total offense nationally.

King's season stats in seven games: 141 of 222, three INTs, 63.5 completion percentage, 1,984 passing yards, 281 net rushing yards, 31 total TDs.

Houston is now bowl eligible for the sixth straight year after their win.

Ed Oliver is questionable vs USF due to a knee contusion.

Stats pulled via the official UH Cougar Football page.

UCF 37, ECU 10

UCF went into Greenville, NC with 20 straight wins and ranked at No. 10. The Golden Knights medical staff determined that star QB McKenzie Milton had to be benched after being closely monitored in pre-game warmups. Milton had to leave the field in their previous game vs. Memphis where he tweaked his ankle on a game winning touchdown run. QB Darriel Mack Jr. had to succeed Milton on short notice and it showed in the first half, where UCF greatly depended on their defense and even a trick play to induce their first touchdown of the game with seven minutes left. Turnovers kept the Pirates from standing a chance to make a comeback attempt, especially after they fumbled the football at the UCF 1-yard line, only to be recovered and converted into a dagger defensive TD. ECU falls to 2-5, and will play Memphis after its bye. UCF continues to be on a roll and head into next week at 7-0 as they will host Temple in Orlando.

USF 38, UConn 30

No, 21 USF got off to a slow start against a UConn team that went into this game at 1-5. Turnovers and a persistent rushing attack created by the Huskies were the two factors on why this game was so close. UConn RBs dominated the ground where David Pinell had 28 carries, 197 rushing yards, and two TDs, and Kevin Mensah had 19 carries, 120 rushing yards, and two TDs. The difference came in the third quarter where the Bulls returned a kickoff for 65 yards, which led QB Blake Barnett to rush in a quick 21-yard TD. USF RBs Johnny Ford and Jordan Cronkite rushed for over 100 yards and scored three TDs. UConn falls to 1-6 and will play UMass at home. USF improves to 7-0 and will visit a Houston team that is more than capable to dethrone them from their Top 25 ranked status.

Temple 24, Cincinnati 17

Cincinnati went into this game at 6-0 and ranked 20th as they visited Temple in Philly. The Bearcats fumbled the ball twice in their opening possessions allowing Temple to score 10 early points. Temple QB Anthony Russo completed 20 of 41, 237 passing yards, three TDs and three INTs. What kept this game so close was the amount of turnovers both offenses were coughing up. The game then went into overtime tied at 17 points apiece. The Owls scored first and defended Cincinnati well on their attempt to tie the game to remain alive. But the Bearcats made a costly communication error at the point of the snap via fumble and backed themselves 10 costly yards, where they then would go on to throw a pick and ended their win streak. Cincinnati is kicked out of the Top 25 rankings and head into SMU with a 6-1 record. Temple faces a tough task at UCF and improve to 5-3.

Other Notable Results in the AAC

Arkansas 23, Tulsa 0

SMU 27, Tulane 23

Missouri 65, Memphis 33

 

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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