The UH/AAC Report

Short week offers Houston an opportunity for redemption

D'Eriq King breaks AAC single season TD passing record Houston Cougar Football Facebook

Temple 59, Houston 49

Houston’s season has lost all of the luster it gained two weeks ago after being ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 poll. They are in a two game losing skid, and in a three-way tie sitting at 4-2 in the AAC West with SMU and Tulane. Offense is definitely not an issue for Houston, but they have somehow lost two games this season when scoring at least seven touchdowns. (Texas Tech, Temple).

Saturday’s Homecoming game was also accompanied by the celebrations of the 243rd Marine Corps Birthday and Veteran’s Day, but these celebrations were spoiled very early. A blocked punt induced by the Owl’s special teams was capitalized 70 seconds after kickoff by RB Ryquell Armstead; Who had 30 carries, 210 rushing yards, and a AAC record breaking 6 rushing TDs. Temple QB Anthony Russo had a quiet game mainly due to the effectiveness of their rushing attack; He went 14 for 22, threw for 217 yards, and 0 TD’s. After an early 14-point explosive start from the Owls, the Cougars would try to tie the game, but it took them almost 13 minutes and 15 play drive to finally score a touchdown. Houston played from behind the entire game and would never even tie it, the closest score margin was 7 points. On a positive note, King broke UCF’s QB McKenzie Milton’s AAC 2017 single season touchdown record by surpassing 45 TDs with two games left in the season. He went 28 for 46, threw for 322 yards, had 6 total TDs, and had 1 INT.

The question remains as to what the defensive adjustments will be after Ed Oliver departs. Defensive Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio is definitely on the chopping block, but you can make the case that many of his key players are sidelined due to injuries that have ended their seasons. Oliver has sat for the last three games due to a knee contusion suffered after receiving a nasty chop block vs. Navy in Annapolis. Head Coach Major Applewhite has held Oliver from doing press conferences mostly to protect him from the difficult position he is in right now and what is to come in the future since he is a projected top five NFL draft pick next year. On Tuesday evening, it was reported that he would sit out again this week vs. Tulane. Regardless, Houston continues to be one of the worst defenses in the FBS, ranking last in pass defense, 121st in total defense, 116th in third down defense, out of 129 schools. Unacceptable.  

The one good thing for Houston is that it is a short week. They have a shot at reconciliation and the opportunity for a division lead against Tulane at home on Thursday night. But it won’t be easy, Tulane is on a three game winning streak that includes a 41-15 blowout win over USF. This game could be another one of those typical AAC shootouts with no defense. (Hint: I would bet the over at 67.5) Houston must also keep an eye out on SMU, who holds the tie breaker against them in case of a tie at the end of the season. UH falls to 7-3 for the season, and 4-2 in the AAC West. Temple improves to 6-4 for the season, and 5-1 in the AAC East.

Tulane 24, ECU 18

The Green Wave won in front of their homecoming crowd on Saturday night. However, they lost their top pass rusher Patrick Johnson in the first half due to a targeting ejection and will also sit out the first half vs. Houston. Green Wave QB Justin McMillan went 12 for 28, threw for 372 passing yards, had 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. WR Darnell Mooney had 6 receptions for 217 yards and 2 TDs. ECU falls to 2-7 on the season and will face Connecticut in Greenville, NC. While Tulane improves to 5-5, 4-2 in the AAC West, and will play Houston for the division lead on Thursday at TDECU stadium.

UCF 35, Navy 24

The Golden Knights extend their win streak to 22 games after their win on Saturday vs the Midshipmen in Florida. McKenzie Milton had an easy night; he went 17 for 21, threw for 200 yards, rushed for 62 yards, had 3 total TDs, and 0 INTs. UCF ran the ball for 70 percent of their plays, where the rushing corps went for over 250 yards and accounted for 3 TDs. UCF maintains the No. 12 ranking in the College Playoff Rankings and will face a tough Cincinnati team on Saturday night. Navy drops to 2-8 and will play against Tulsa at home.

Other Notable Results in the AAC

SMU 62, UConn 50

Memphis 47, Tulsa 21

Cincinnati 35, USF 23

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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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