Programming note: The Blitz is broadcasting live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington today in preparation for the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith fight. Michael Pearson will be filling in for A.J. Hoffman, who is preparing for his own fight tonight. We will have some boxing interviews to sprinkle in, but it will be the usual dose of football, gambling, degeneracy, etc. Tune in from 4-7 p.m. on ESPN 97.5. Pearson killed it yesterday so don’t miss it!
By FRED FAOUR
If you just looked at the score, you would have thought the Houston Cougars had dominated Cincinnati. The final was 40-16.
If you watched the game, you knew UH was against the ropes and trailing 16-12 early in the fourth quarter.
But if you watched the game, you also knew UH was by far the better team. The Cougars outgained Cincy 508-307. They dominated time of possession 38:08-21:52. But rare, non-UH type miscues — fluky turnovers, awkward penalties — kept Cincy in the game.
But once down 16-12 in the fourth, the Cougars cranked it up. They answered Cincy’s lead-taking score by going on a nice, nine-play, 71-yard drive to regain the upper hand at 19-16. Then they got an interception, drove down the field and made it 26-16. Then in a span of seven seconds they got back to back pick sixes and made it 40-16. So 28 fourth-quarter points. Game over.
This was probably the Cougars’ toughest test until they face Louisville in late November. And they passed.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t the well-coached, well-oiled machine we have seen from Tom Herman’s team. But it was a big road win in a game that could have easily gone the other way. That’s the mark of a good team. And the Cougars proved once again they are a good team. Greg Ward, Jr. put up big numbers, but also threw two costly interceptions. Still, as a starter, Ward is 21-2. Over the last five years as a head coach and OC under Urban Meyer at Ohio State, Herman’s teams are 52-4.
Greg Ward: 24 of 36 passing for 326 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs. On the ground: 26 carries, 73 yards, 2 TDs.
They find ways to win. On Thursday, they did it again.
The Cougars are 3-0, and they belong in the top 10. How good are they? That will play out over the course of the season. But so far, so good.
Another view: The basic point about what it is going to take for Houston to make the Final Four is valid. It’s a long shot. But the concept that last night’s win eliminated them? OK…Kind of a troll job but some good points.
Oh, that other game: Former Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had his way with the Bills. Late in his career, he has turned in to a very solid quarterback.
Keep hope alive? The Astros lost ground in the wild-card standings even with an off day. They face one of the teams ahead of them tonight in Seattle. In won’t be easy.
And they were ugly, too: If you thought DeAndre Hopkins would get fined for his cleats he wore against the Bears on Sunday, you were right.
Fear the beard? See where James Harden ranks in SI’s top 100 NBA players.
Coming up big: Eric Decker’s wife can’t stop talking about his big…richard.
For my single friends: A lady gives dating advice to guys. It seems a little goofy, but hey, whatever works.
Yeah, how do you think this will go? A.J. Hoffman will be fighting on the legacy card tonight.
He is pictured with his opponent (Hoffman is on the left) at the weigh-in yesterday. Supply your own punch lines…The fight should be streamed here, according to A.J.
I know I am the only one who cares, but...The World Cup of hockey starts tomorrow. Yes, I will be watching. If you want a good hockey experience, watch the games at The Maple Leaf Pub. If I don’t die in tomorrow’s 10k I will probably try to catch the USA and Canada games there.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.”
— Bill Watterson