For redshirt junior defensive end Zeke Riser, the importance of finishing on a good note spans well beyond his four-year tenure.
“It’s not just us,” Riser said. “That stadium’s been there for a real long time. We’ve got to think about all the guys before us who have worn the same colors we do; that was their same stadium. There is a lot of history behind it, so we’ve got to go out on a positive note.”
Of the 21 wins at Robertson Stadium senior linebacker Phillip Steward has been a part of, one victory stands out among the rest.
“My freshman year we played against Texas Tech,” Steward said. “Everybody stormed the field. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. It was hot in there — it was crazy and everyone was excited.”
With 5:47 remaining in the game and UH trailing 28-23, the Cougars started their drive 95 yards away from pay dirt. In a win for the ages, UH moved the ball over 16 plays taking up nearly five minutes, cultivated in a quarterback draw by former quarterback Case Keenum to go up for good 29-28.
“I have been here five years now and I can speak for a lot of people that there are fond memories of a lot of events and great football games,” head coach Tony Levine said. “Among others that stand out is the win over Texas Tech from 2009 when Case ran the ball in at the stroke of midnight.”
Since moving permanently back to its current home in 1996, the Cougars have played two Conference USA championship games at Robertson Stadium. The first came in 2006 when Kevin Kolb and the Cougars overpowered Southern Miss in a 34-20 victory. The second came against the same conference foe in an undefeated 2011 campaign but resulted in a 49-28 defeat. Despite that result, Riser points to that game’s atmosphere as the best of his UH career.
“I would say the championship game (as my favorite),” Riser said. “It didn’t turn out like we wanted to but the atmosphere (being) over capacity, it was something real special. There were a lot of loud fans.”
With a first-class facility set to open in 2014 on the same grounds, the new stadium will be far from its predecessor in many regards and a new generation of players, coaches and fans will have a turn at making their own memories.
“We’ll be sad to see it go,” Levine said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was a lot of excitement for what’s to come with the new facility.”