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 is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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