ElViento: It was a drive that will live on in Cougar lore forever.
Four minutes, fifty-eight seconds.
At 12:01 on Sunday morning, Case Keenum dove into the end zone, putting Houston up for good. The final score would read Cougars 29, Texas Tech Red Raiders 28.
Clearly, the first order of business is naming that drive. While “The Drive” is elegant in its simplicity, it lacks in originality. John Elway called and said, “I think that one’s been done before.” Fortunately, I have a better suggestion:
The Two-Day Drive.
With 5:47 left to play, Houston trailed by 5 points, and had 95 yards in front of them. Things didn’t get off to a great start, as a pass attempt for James Cleveland fell incomplete, and a 6 yard toss to Tyron Carrier left Houston with a third down still deep inside its own territory.
But then Keenum found Patrick Edwards for seven yards and the first.
The next nervous moment came one set of downs later, as the Cougars faced a third-and-ten from their own 34 yard line. Keenum dropped back, scrambled, and ended up rushing for exactly ten yards and the first down.
The very next set of downs, the Cougars cut it even closer, with Keenum finding Edwards yet again on the sidelines for a 7-yarder on fourth-and-four.
A Bryce Beall rush went for 12 yards to get the Cougars within 30 yards of the end zone, and a surgical Keenum strike to Carrier moved Houston all the way down to the Texas Tech 7 yard line.
On first down, Beall ran for three.
On second down, a designed QB keeper saw Keenum dive into the end zone, and saw Robertson Stadium explode.
With less than a minute to work with, and with no timeouts remaining, the Red Raiders were unable to seriously threaten. Final score, Houston 29, Texas Tech 28.
What Does This Mean?
The great thing about Houston’s win over Oklahoma State was that any objective observer of the game could see that the Cougars simply outplayed the Cowboys. The statistics for the game back this up. It was great to know that we’re good enough to beat a team like that.
The great thing about Houston’s win over Texas Tech was that the Cougars clearly did not have their A-game, and they won anyway.
Although Keenum’s final line was impressive, he missed several open receivers. When he was hitting receivers on the numbers, a handful of passes got dropped anyway. Houston’s defense was impressive yet again, but had a few fits of missed arm tackles that would have sent a Pee-Wee coach into a frenzy. On several occasions, the Cougar coaching staff seemed to be tentative with the play-calling. Like they were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. (A draw play on third-and-twelve to set up a 44-yard field goal? Really?? That’s the kind of team we are??)
I don’t know if Houston got too high on itself with all of the publicity the team has received lately. I don’t know if having a week off messed with everybody’s schedule. I don’t know if we just had an inevitable off-day, and it just so happened to fall on the day of the Tech game.
I don’t know why Houston didn’t play its best football on Saturday. And I don’t care.
We didn’t have our A-game, and we still beat a damn good football team.
Because that’s what great teams do.
Nobody in Conference USA has impressed me terribly this year. Southern Miss could still give us trouble, Tulsa might only because it’s a road game for Houston. Nobody else should be able to play close with us. (Then again, Marshall shouldn’t have played close with us last year, and they wiped the field with us.)
Still, anybody who saw Mississippi State hang tough with LSU on Saturday knows that Houston has their work cut out for them in two weeks when they head to Starkville.
Rumors are that Matt Nicholson re-tore his ACL. A senior leader at linebacker, Houston will miss Nicholson’s presence. The good news is that the backup linebackers have looked stronger than expected so far this year, and we still have two very good players at that position in C.J. Cavness and Marcus McGraw. Still, Nicholson will be missed, if in fact he has re-torn his ACL. A huge thank you for the years of hard work you’ve put in, Matt.
A Quick Word on Rushing the Field
I’m sure that the Cougar alumni have already started grousing about the students rushing the field. How do I know this? They were grousing about the mere possibility before the game started.
Look, alums. I love y’all. I absolutely love y’all to death. Y’all were fantastic and loud all game, and I love every single one of you.
But you need to get over it.
I always hear people say we should “act like we’ve been there before.” Guess what? We haven’t. At least not in any of our (the students’) lifetimes.
The students love to rush the field. The players enjoyed it, too. That should be all that matters.
It’s not every game you beat a team of Texas Tech’s caliber on a last-minute, 95-yard drive. Ranked team or not, that’s worth celebrating.
I know that not every single Cougar alumnus had a problem with it, so I apologize for generalizing. But UH students showing school spirit is rare, and should be encouraged. I rushed the field, I’m damn proud of it, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything.
Talking to a couple of Houston fans after the game, the subject immediately turned back to the what if’s. What if we finish undefeated? Will we end up in the BCS? Will Boise State, with their powder-puff non-conference schedule, finish ahead of us?
Then a fan broke out what I think is the best advice I’ve heard in a long time. It is my new motto for the year. I’ll paraphrase as best I can:
Ride the wave. Don’t worry about going undefeated. Don’t worry about the BCS. Just ride the wave. Wherever Houston ends up at the end of the year, it’ll be better than where we were at the beginning of the season. So enjoy every game to the best of your abilities.
Ride the wave, Cougars. Ride the wave.
P.S. Jackson Jeffcoat, please sign with Houston. Thank you.