By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2010 TexSport Publications
HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 5, 2010) With their 40-27 loss to the University of Central Florida Knights this evening, the Houston Cougars are in a must-win situation the rest of the season in order to keep their chances alive to play in their sixth consecutive post season bowl game.
With the loss to UCF, the Cougars dropped to 5-4 for the season and 4-2 in Conference USA play.
The Cougars will face C-USA opponents Tulsa (Nov. 13) and Southern Mississippi (Nov. 20) before taking non-conference foe Texas Tech in their last regular season game on Nov. 29 in Lubbock.
Tulsa (5-3, 2-2 C-USA) will play Rice (2-6, 1-3 C-USA) at home on Nov. 6. The game should be a cakewalk for the Golden Hurricanes, but that is what Houston thought before being snaked by Rice 34-31 on Oct. 16.
This game could go either way, but I expect a Tulsa victory. They have outscored their opponents 297-229 while Rice has only scored 178 points while allowing opponents to rack up 283 points this season.
That would make Tulsa 6-3 for the season when they face the Cougars. With the lack of consistency shown by the Cougars this season, the game could be a win for Tulsa.
Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin will have to use all of his offensive skills and find a way to motivate the defense to stop the Golden Hurricanes.
Southern Mississippi (5-3, 2-2 C-USA) is currently in third place in C-USA East and will square off against Tulane (3-5, 1-3 C-USA) on Nov. 6 in New Orleans.
That should be a sure win for the Golden Eagles, giving them needed momentum going into their game with UCF on Nov. 13.
It will not matter if Southern Mississippi wins or loses against UCF. They will be facing Houston in Hattiesburg and the Cougars have had trouble playing on the road this season.
They have a 1-2 record when away from Robertson Stadium this season, losing to UCLA 31-13 on Sept. 18, Mississippi State 47-24 on Oct. 9, and cross-town rival Rice 34-31 on Oct. 16.
If the Cougars win either of their next two games, they will be bowl eligible with at least six wins.
The Texas Tech game may simply be an afterthought as far as the bowl officials are concerned.
Conference USA is guaranteed spots in six bowl games and will serves as a primary back-up for a possible seventh game.
The fact remains is which bowl, would select the Cougars if they finish with 6 conference wins.
In my mind, the Cougars must win their remaining three games if they hope to gain admittance to bowl play.
By winning their three remaining games, they will finish the regular season with an 8-4 record going into the C-USA championship game on Dec. 4.
At that point, win or lose, they would be headed to a bowl.
The key point is that they must win their remaining three games in order to be guaranteed a chance at post-season play.
If not, the only bowl game the Cougars will be watching in December will be on their television sets.