Week 12: Cougars look to bounce back against No. 25 Cowboys
The highly anticipated clash between the Houston Cougars and the No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowboys is scheduled for TDECU Stadium, marking UH’s final home game of the season on Saturday.
This showdown reignites a matchup dormant since 2009, with the Cougars holding a slight historical edge at 10-9-1, including a respectable 5-4-1 record when hosting the Cowboys.
A memorable chapter in their history unfolded with the Cougars securing a thrilling 45-35 victory over the Cowboys in their previous encounter led by quarterback Case Keenum.
Houston in freefall
Recent challenges loom large for the Cougars, fresh off a disappointing homecoming loss to Cincinnati. The defense faltered and conceded a troubling 204 rushing yards and allowed a touchdown through the air. Despite applying substantial pressure on the Cincinnati quarterback and tallying four sacks, they struggled to contain the opposing rushing onslaught.
Looking ahead, the critical task for Houston’s defense revolves around staunchly halting Oklahoma State’s potent rushing attack spearheaded by Ollie Gordon II. Gordon boasts an impressive tally of over 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, leading the nation in rushing statistics.
Offensively, sophomore wide receiver Samuel Brown has risen as Houston’s primary target, racking up 59 catches for 776 yards and three touchdowns. His role has become even more pivotal with sophomore wide receiver Matthew Golden sidelined due to injury.
The Cowboys’ roster features standout performers such as quarterback Alan Bowman, who has shown prowess with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, amassing 2,139 yards with logging a 58% completion rate.
Defensive force Collin Oliver has emerged as a key threat with five sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and an impressive total of 60 tackles in ten games to make his mark felt as a disruptive presence on the field.
Houston’s defensive prowess, notably excelling in fumbles lost and turnovers, stands as a potential beacon of hope in this challenging matchup. The key may lie in containing Gordon to under 30 yards as evidenced by UCF’s commendable containment of the star runner to a mere 25 yards despite their below .500 standing.
For the Cougars, junior defensive lineman Nelson Ceasar stands out, leading the team with an imposing 9.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in nine games.
Bowl eligibility on the line
Holgorsen’s tenure at the helm saw the Cougars finish 8-5 last season, securing a bowl game appearance for the third consecutive year. While this season poses the possibility of a 4-8 record reminiscent of his debut year, speculation about Holgorsen’s future remains at-large.
A triumph against the Cowboys could significantly bolster the Cougars’ chances for another bowl game berth, offering a glimmer of hope amid a season of inconsistency.