Houston got all it could handle from Cincinnati – and then the defense put an end to that in the fourth quarter. What are the 5 Things That Matter after Houston’s 40-16 win?
Houston 40, Cincinnati 16
Find a way
It’ll be easy to dog Houston for having so many problems against Cincinnati, and not a TCU, a Michigan State, or an Oregon, but this was a dangerous – very dangerous – Thursday night game against a good Cincinnati team that might just be the second-best team in the American Athletic Conference. Great teams avoid the trap, and Houston just did it by coming up with the big mistakes and big plays in the fourth quarter because …
Cincinnati couldn’t close
The Bearcats had the 16-12 lead in the fourth quarter, and they kept moving the ball well, but Hayden Moore threw three interceptions he couldn’t give away.
And Houston pounced.
Again, give credit to Houston for forcing its own breaks, dialing up the pressure and forcing Moore to make the bad throws, and scoring off the errors. One pick – Houston drives and scores. Second pick – Steven Taylor rumbles for a score. Third pick – Howard Wilson takes it for a pick-six.
The whole concern about Cincinnati was whether or not it could handle itself in a game like this. It couldn’t
If that’s Greg Ward hurting …
The Cougar offense struggled to get rolling, but Greg Ward Jr. – banged up shoulder and all – threw for 326 yards and a touchdown with two picks, and he ran for 73 yards and two touchdown showing no regard for any injury.
More than anything else, on the road he was poised and cool. It might not have been a perfect game for the star, but he calmly ran for a score when his team was down, and then the floodgates opened up.
Now he has to stay in one piece.
Cincinnati couldn’t run the ball a lick
Moore might have thrown the bad interceptions, but to be fair, he had to press because his running game didn’t give him anything to work with.
The Houston defensive front was all over the Bearcat ground game, and for the second straight big game – starting with the opener against Oklahoma – the D was more physical. This time, it kept UC to 30 yards on 25 carries – but it was more about the Houston defense than the Cincinnati offense.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
Cincinnati has to blow this off in a hurry. It could play the Cougars again in the AAC Conference Championship, and there’s plenty of time to improve. With Miami University up next, there’s time to get back on track before dealing with three straight huge games against South Florida, UConn and East Carolina.
Houston just keeps on rolling, but after dealing with a dangerous Texas State offense, Connecticut and Navy should give the Cougars a rough time. But if the UH run defense keeps playing this well, those shouldn’t be a problem.