In an utterly dominating performance, the Houston Cougars reminded the nation that they are still a damn good football team in dismantling the #5 Louisville Cardinals 36-10. This was the second time Louisville took down a highly ranked program after smashing Oklahoma in the season opener.
There are those that were blindsided by this result and those that are liars. Houston came into this game with an 8-2 record, but zero solid performances since September. They slipped by against Tulsa and Tulane while losing to Navy and SMU. Yes, SMU. What the hell? Then they pull together one of the best performances of any team in the nation. Not only did they beat Louisville, they completely dominated the #5 team in the nation.
Though Houston got back into the national spotlight with the win, it was not without some sadness. Star defensive tackle Ed Oliver injured his knee and missed the majority of the second half. Speculation was that the injury would keep him out a significant amount of time, possibly for the rest of the season. We should find out the extent of his injury in the upcoming days, but hopefully it is not as severe as many fear.
We need to head back to the Houston defense for a minute. They came in playing pretty well as a group, ranking in the top 40 in sacks. Then, they turned around and produced 5,264 sacks versus what many analysts called a good offense line from Louisville.
They literally pushed the Cardinals around in the trenches and had the offensive line so out of sorts that this happened.
Houston jumped out quickly and put up the first 31 points of the night, before holding on in the second half for the win. There were a few shaky moments in the third quarter, but Louisville never pulled any closer than 31-10 at any point in the second half.
It is a shame that Houston was unable to play at the level of this and the Oklahoma games for the entire season. When they are playing at this level, they are not only the best G5 team in the nation but one of the top four teams in all of the FBS. A performance like this would allow Houston to more than hold their own against the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world.
With this win, Houston may have officially broke the CFP poll. Many expect the Cougars to leapfrog Boise State and WMU and become the top ranked G5 program. That brings into question whether the requirement of the “top G5 program” needing to be a conference champion will be enforced. The Cotton Bowl would love nothing more than to choose Houston to play Wisconsin/Penn State/whoever as the G5 representative. It is time to find out if it is a rule or a guideline.
There is also the chance, albeit tiny, that another at-large bid for a NY6 game could go to the G5. The good of that would be Western Michigan or Boise State and Houston both in a NY6 bowl. The bad is the almost guarantee that it would end up being a G5 title matchup rather than a chance for two G5 teams to win program changing bowl games versus P5 opponents.