Week 1

Houston 33, Oklahoma 23: 5 Things That Matter


Houston looks fantastic in a 33-23 statement win over Oklahoma. What are the 5 Things That Matter about the huge Cougar win?


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One team a little faster, a little sharper.

Houston made plays in space, Oklahoma didn’t.

The Cougars did a great job of getting the right players in places to do something with the ball, the had a better tempo, and they executed better everywhere except the red zone.

Three early field goals – instead of touchdowns – and a late fumble helped to keep Oklahoma alive, but this could’ve turned into an ugly blowout if Houston had gotten just been sharper after moving down the field. And now …

Okay, so let’s really do this.

Lamar, at Cincinnati, at Texas State, UConn, at Navy, Tulsa, at SMU, UCF, Tulane, Louisville, at Memphis, and then, if all goes according to plan, the American Athletic Conference title.

Remember, Houston blew it last year against UConn for its only loss of the year, and it could absolutely struggle at Cincinnati or Memphis, or against a jacked up Louisville team, but it’s not playing a Power 5 conference schedule.

Even with the relatively light slate, this was the win for the national credit. It wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t fluky. Houston dominated offensively – it was the better team. And now it’s about to get credit for it.

Oklahoma’s O line didn’t get the job done.

The offensive line didn’t generate much of a push for a running game that went nowhere. The Sooners ran 26 times for 70 yards and a score, with little happening after a terrific first drive. The coaching staff all but abandoned the ground game for short bubble screens and quick-hitters, and it wasn’t enough. Houston didn’t have a running game, either, Greg Ward Jr. survived.

Baker Mayfield did everything he needed to do, but …

Greg Ward Jr. was better. Mayfield completed 24-of-33 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns, but he didn’t get free for the ground game. He was perfect at times, made smarter decisions than the stats would indicate, and he did everything he could.

Ward made the bigger plays.

There were a few too many downfield shots, and Ward wasn’t accurate enough, but he showed improved passing skills from last year and he got the job done to keep drives alive. Throwing for 321 yards and two scores. 9-of-18 on third downs – that’s what Ward was able to do to help the offense dominate. Now he just has to be sharper in the red zone, but no one will complain after the way the offense rolled.

What Does This All REALLY Mean?

Okay, Houston, game on.

This wasn’t just a win, this was a dominant performance that proved the Cougars belong in the discussion for really, really big things. However, with this schedule they still have to be perfect to live the dream. One loss ruins the fun.

It’s not the end of the world for Oklahoma, but now there’s no margin for error. Beat Ohio State in Week 3, and the Houston loss goes away. It’s got to be an 11-0 run to get back to the College Football Playoff, but the Sooners didn’t look like a team with the makeup to make that happen.