Week 11 Preview: Cougars look to get back to .500 against Cincinnati
Houston football returns home for homecoming to face Cincinnati on Saturday night in a potentially consequential game.
The Cougars hope to improve their record to .500 on the year and obtain their third conference win and second consecutive win. Houston has not won two straight games all season and has not been .500 since beating West Virginia to improve to 3-3 in October.
A massive bounce-back
Last week, Houston captured its first-ever Big 12 road win against Baylor in Waco, 25-24.
The Cougars were coming off of a brutal 41-0 loss at Kansas State the week prior, the first time in over 20 years the UH was shut out in a game.
UH gained a 10-0 lead towards the end of the third quarter when the Bears launched a comeback to send the game into overtime at 17-17. Baylor scored first in the extra period to take its first lead of the game with a touchdown.
Forced to begin their overtime drive at the 40-yard-line due to a penalty, junior quarterback Donovan Smith and the Cougars drove down the field capped off by a one-yard run by Smith. UH decided to go for the win, and Smith took a quarterback draw into the endzone for the two-point conversion for the victory.
Formerly, the two teams were conference competitors in Conference USA and most recently the AAC.
Houston last faced Cincinnati in the 2021 AAC championship game, in which the Cougars lost 20-35. At large, the Cougars have a slight advantage, tallying 15 all-time wins in the match-up compared to Cincinnati’s 13.
However, UH has not beaten the Bearcats since a 40-16 win in 2016 and is 2-8 in the last 10 games against Cincinnati.
A winnable game starting with defense
Cincinnati is on a six-game losing streak and has yet to defeat a Big 12 opponent.
Turnovers are a major reason for Cincinnati’s lack of success this season, committing 15 turnovers in nine games this season, with 11 of them coming in six conference games.
Despite these struggles, Cincinnati still sits second in the conference in rushing yards, which has been a struggle for UH to stop, allowing an average of 160.3 yards per game on the ground. If Houston commits to stopping the run, and getting takeaways, they will likely drop Cincinnati to 2-8 on the season.
Forward momentum: 2 wins needed for bowl bid
Sitting at 4-5, UH needs wins in two out of their final three games to reach the six-win threshold to maintain bowl eligibility.
The Bearcats, sitting last in the Big 12 with a 2-7 overall record, present likely the Cougars’ best chance to get back to .500 and begin a bowl push.
Next week, the Cougars face a much tougher opponent, No. 15 Oklahoma State, before closing the season with UCF on the road. The stakes remain high, making this a must-win for the Cougars to keep their bowl hopes alive.