#15 Houston handles #3 Oklahoma

We’ve come to expect this from Bob Stoops and Oklahoma. Whenever expectations get high, his teams seem to fold.

Coming off of an appearance in the College Football Playoff and opening the season as the third-ranked team in the country, the Sooners faced off against a ranked Houston team led by the new coaching sensation on the block in Tom Herman. The result was a 33-23 loss that won’t sit well with Sooner Nation.

Meanwhile, Houston becomes that Group of 5 team that everyone will have to contend with as a threat to crack the College Football Playoff. Their schedule is very favorable going forward apart from a battle with Louisville later in the season.

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Houston loss has big-time BCS implications

It didn’t take long today for the Bowl Championship Series to get a significant shake up. Sure, we already know who’s going to play in the national title game — because if we’ve learned nothing this year, it’s that every game matters … unless you play in the SEC — but the other games still were up for grabs today.

Houston, which had gone through the season unbeaten and found itself in the top 10, had the inside track to the Sugar Bowl as the top non-AQ school in the country with a ranking inside the top 12. I’m not sure if today’s loss to Southern Mississippi would knock the Cougars outside of the top 12 (it probably should), but it doesn’t matter, as they’re not Conference USA champions, meaning they’d have to get in as an at-large. Good luck with that.

So who gets the spot? Well, if Houston falls behind Michigan, it’s likely enough to get the Wolverines into the top 14, making them a shoe-in for an at-large spot. Then again, Michigan is likely to get there anyway, and most projections have them playing in the Sugar Bowl against Houston already. TCU would be the non-AQ school with the best chance, as it sits at No. 18 in the BCS standings right now, and only needs to get to No. 16 to earn an auto-bid. Head spinning yet? If a non-AQ school wins its conference and finishes in the top 16, it can get an automatic berth in a BCS game provided the champion from at least one AQ conference is ranked below it. Thank you, Big East.

If TCU doesn’t jump two spots (which is possible but not all that likely), then an at-large selection would fill the slot. The most likely choices are Boise State, Kansas State and, if it loses today, Oklahoma State.

As for the Big East, Cincinnati’s win against UConn leaves a three-way tie at the top of the league, so the final BCS standings will determine who gets the bid. Barring something crazy, that will be West Virginia, which is currently the only Big East team in the top 25, sitting at No. 23.

Central Florida shocks No. 15 Houston

The first upset of Week 11 in college football came courtesy of Central Florida, which knocked off No. 15 Houston 37-32 at BH Networks Stadium on Saturday.

Turnovers doomed the Cougars throughout the day. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter, Houston was knocking on the door of another score after quarterback Case Keenum led his team inside the red zone. But Bryce Beall fumbled at the 1-yard line and the Golden Knights recovered to halt a potential touchdown. After its defense forced a three-and-out, Houston again fumbled in UCF territory, only this time the Knights turned the gift into points by kicking a 35-yard field goal.

Nick Cattoi gave Houston a 17-3 lead by returning the following kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but UCF answered with 21 answered points to take a 23-20 lead late in the third quarter. A Keenum interception midway through the fourth led to yet another UCF score to essentially put Houston away for good, although the Cougars did tack on two touchdowns with under four minutes remaining in a frantic comeback that fell just short.

This was a rather impressive win by the Knights, who have struggled with consistency this season. Senior quarterback Brett Hodges outplayed Keenum today, completing 21 of 25 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore running back Brynn Harvey racked up 139 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. Granted, they got some help from Houston, which shot itself in the foot repeatedly with turnovers. But UCF capitalized on the Cougars’ mistakes and pulled off one of the better upsets of the year.

If SMU beats UTEP today, Houston will fall one game behind the Mustangs in the Conference USA West standings. The Cougars hold the potential tiebreaker between the two teams because they beat the Mustangs 38-15 earlier this season, but their fate is now in SMU’s hands.

The good news is that Houston plays two cupcakes in Memphis and Rice the next two weeks. The bad news is that SMU plays Marshall and Tulane, which aren’t exactly powerhouses.

Cougar fans better start rooting hard for UTEP.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Quick Hit Observations from College Football Week 12

USC-Stanford– Raise your hand if you thought Stanford would upset USC again when the score was tied 17-17 at halftime. (Hand raised.)

– Not that a ton of people care about Conference USA, but what a statement by Houston. I don’t know what was more impressive, the fact that the Cougars scored 70 points or that they held Tulsa to only 30 points.

– Iowa’s Shonn Grenne (30 carries, 211 yards in a 22-17 win over Purdue) is a legit Heisman candidate for 2009.

– What happened to Kansas? I realize they didn’t play any of the top teams in the Big 12 last year, but they’re better than 6-5 aren’t they?

– They might have won 34-7, but Penn State’s win over Indiana was the least impressive 34-7 victory in some time.

– One of the more underrated rivalries in college football is Georgia-Auburn. And the Tigers easily have one of the more underrated defenses in the nation.

– Early upset watch for Week 13: Nevada over Boise State. The Wolf Pack’s offense is good enough to keep pace with the Broncos’ explosive attack and Boise hasn’t faced a tough opponent all year. (Unless you consider when they faced Oregon and their fourth string quarterback a tough opponent.)

– Worst…Michigan…season…ever.

– Underrated game of the week: No. 14 Ball State at Central Michigan next Wednesday.

– College football fans were cheated by not getting to see Beanie Wells run for a full season. He was amazing against Illinois.

– How about Troy hanging with LSU in Baton Rouge? Had they not turned the ball over three times, the Trojans could have pulled off one of the best upsets in college football this season.

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