O.K., I’m not wrong, because it did get ugly at times, but not really in the way I expected.
Never have I seen a team win by this many points and look so sloppy doing it.
Tulsa decided to go with a redshirt freshman at quarterback in Seth Boomer, and for three-plus quarters, he did just enough to win. He also got extremely lucky.
On Tulsa’s opening drive, the Cougars dropped a sure-fire pick six, and then a blown coverage gave Boomer a 33-yard touchdown pass on a fourth and four.
Tulsa’s second drive started at the Houston 13 after a turnover, but only ended in a field goal after Houston dropped another interception.
Boomer had his moments, and those moments also included the fourth quarter, when the Cougar pass rush started to get home; poor ball security meant a sack-fumble inside the Hurricane 10, and then a telegraphed late throw in the slot led to another interception. He finished the night 13-for-31 for 227 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but most of that came on just a few plays.
Tulsa as a team has had their moments. They lost to Texas by 7, to Arkansas State by 9. They lost to Temple by 14 in a game where they turned the ball over five times and two of them were returned for scores, and they lose to Houston by 15 in a game where two late turnovers gave Houston drives that started in the red zone.
Tulsa is also a team that is one of only 38 in the FBS to have forced 9 or more turnovers, yet they continue to have the second-worst turnover margin in the country (-7).
Houston won, and they’re 4-1 now, but they sure looked a mess doing it. This was the Rice game all over again, except a competent defense that mostly eliminated their big play abilities caused them to struggle for three quarters instead of two.
D’Eriq King’s second pass attempt was intercepted, then an incorrectly overturned red zone fumble by Tulsa was followed by three turnovers in seven plays, two by Houston including King’s second interception.
Houston seemed to be building some momentum heading into the locker room by finally putting together some scoring drives, but Tulsa came out and dominated the line of scrimmage – Corey Taylor didn’t rack up 152 yards on the ground by accident.
Of course, Taylor also didn’t play the last eight minutes because of a high ankle sprain he suffered on his next-to-last carry. The hard part was that his carry left the Golden Hurricane with a third-and-one and Taylor was visibly limping and waving to the sideline for a sub, but the offense went hurry-up and he had no choice but to line back up.
He was visibly unable to do much with that carry, and a two-yard loss led to a punt that was the beginning of the end. Starting with that play, Tulsa ran 18 plays and only gained 29 yards, and turned the ball over twice to boot.
Tulsa has some promise. They needed multiple breaks to go their way to have a lead on the road at Houston, and when the luck ran out and started to normalize, they got outscored 24-0 in the last 13 minutes.
The defense mostly avoided big plays, and their performance against one of the conference’s most explosive offenses bodes well for the rest of the season. If Boomer can eliminate the turnovers and Taylor can stay healthy, a bowl game might not be an unrealistic goal still.
Houston might have an explosive offense, but they struggled far more than they should have against Rice, and now they did it again versus Tulsa. I have no idea if they’ll even make it through ECU and Navy unscathed, let alone USF, Temple or god forbid Noted Memphis Killer Tulane.
Tulsa now showed teams that if you can take away Houston’s chunk plays, tackle well enough on the underneath passing game to avoid a lot of yards after the catch, and be quick enough to not get burned on the edges by anyone, you can make this Houston team look very mortal.
This is going to be a weird year in the AAC. I can feel it happening.