No. 16 Houston Cougars (9-0) - W 33-30 over Cincinnati
Rookie head coach Tom Herman's Houston team faced perhaps its toughest challenge of the season when Cincinnati came to visit on Saturday. After going into the half tied at 14, the Cougars scored 16 unanswered points to start the second half. They would need every single one of those points and a fourth quarter field goal to hold off an admirable comeback attempt by the Bearcats.
Houston's defense forced three critical turnovers, including a pick-six which gave the Cougars a 14-point lead in the third quarter. Cincinnati outgained Houston by a fair margin, 589-427, but lost the time of possession battle by 15 minutes. Houston's philosophy is predicated on an attacking style defense which can be very disruptive and cause turnovers. Offensively, the goal is to control possession with the running game.
Star quarterback Greg Ward Jr. rushed for 119 yards on 16 attempts, adding 161 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He had two interceptions against Cincinnati, but had thrown two all season before that. Running back Kenneth Farrow also had a good day, gaining 106 yards and scoring a touchdown on the ground.
This is a very complete Houston team which will challenge UConn on both sides of the ball. The Huskies will need to match the defensive effort of its past two games with a stronger offensive display in order to win. The only weakness for Houston appears to be at the offensive line, which UConn will have to exploit.
Houston is hosting No. 25 Memphis this Saturday at 7pm on ESPN2. It should be a good one.
No. 21 Temple Owls (8-1) - W 60-40 over SMU
Matt Rhule's Temple squad had itself a traditional Texas shootout in Dallas against SMU. Quarterback P.J. Walker threw for four touchdowns and scored a fifth on a 36-yard run late in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach with less than two minutes remaining.
This certainly isn't the kind of game Temple has been associated with as of late--the Owls hadn't allowed more than 20 points since September 19 at UMass--but kudos to them for adjusting to the unfamiliar conditions of a high-scoring affair. With a potentially explosive offense, dual-threat quarterback, and a stalwart defense, Temple will present a very strong challenge to finish the season, especially on the road in Philadelphia.
Temple is playing at South Florida (who is 5-4 and looking good for a bowl appearance) Saturday, also at 7pm, on CBS Sports.