It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
The Arizona Wildcats are now 0-2 for the first time since 1981 after getting absolutely manhandled by the Houston Cougars on Saturday to the tune of a 45-18 beatdown.
This game was never in doubt as UH waltzed 81 yards to the endzone on just ten plays in 2:47 to open the game and never looked back. It’s now the second underwhelming performance to start off the Kevin Sumlin era in Tucson.
Khalil Tate, who appeared to injure his left ankle on the first drive of the game, threw his first interception of the year to give the Cougars the ball right back and allow them to take a 14-0 lead not even halfway through the first quarter.
And the onslaught never stopped.
Houston ended up taking a 31-0 lead into halftime after Arizona got to the Houston 35 twice but missed a field goal wide right and failed to convert on fourth down the next time down the field.
It could have been worse, but several big drops by Cougar receivers at least kept Arizona within five scores.
D’Eriq King threw his fourth touchdown of the game on the Cougs’ first possession of the third quarter, setting a new career single game high. That drive came after a quick Arizona three-and-out complete with a Shun Brown drop.
Tate followed that up with another interception by Garrett Davis, which is a feat he also accomplished vs. Temple last season.
Arizona, Temple, same basic football program.
Houston failed to convert on that takeaway, missing a 33-yard field goal. Arizona returned the favor by making a 49-yard field, albeit with Ed Oliver on the sideline after suffering some sort of upper body injury.
The Wildcats’ first touchdown of the game came against UH’s second-string defense. Houston native Darrius Smith made his college debut at running back for Arizona and racked up 17 yards on the drive including a one-yard TD run.
Tate added a TD run of his own against the Coug backups on the next Arizona drive, but a missed PAT kept the Wildcats 22 points shy of tying the game up.
This is when Major Applewhite put his defensive starters back in, but that didn’t slow down the Arizona offense and the sudden momentum it had found. After a nice punt return by Shun Brown, Tate connected with Tony Ellison on a 46-yard pitch and catch to get the ball down to the Houston 1-yard-line.
However, that stout UH defensive line came up with a goal line stand, stuffing four Arizona runs up the middle and keeping it a three score game. Of course, who in their right mind runs the ball up the middle against that defensive line once let alone four straight times?
Arizona’s best player, Colin Schooler, made up for the offense’s lackluster effort at the goal line by immediately recording a safety and getting Arizona the ball back down 20.
Tate seemed to further injure his ankle on the ensuing drive, and instead of putting the pressure on, Arizona threw in the towel when they decided to punt on fourth down from their own 45-yard-line. Although it pinned Houston at their own five, Marquez Stevenson made that irrelevant when he busted out a 60-yard run, which is now the longest play of the year for UH.
King would score on a quarterback keeper a few plays later — fitting that Houston went out with a bang like that.
- 24-yard TD pass from D’Eriq King to Marquez Stevenson (Houston 7-0)
- D’Eriq King 1-yard TD run (UH 14-0)
- 52-yard TD pass from King to Romello Brooker (UH 21-0)
- 35-yard FG by Dalton Witherspoon (UH 24-0)
- 13-yard pass from King to Bryson Smith (UH 31-0)
- 18-yard pass from King to Keith Corbin (UH 38-0)
- 49-yard FG by Lucas Havrisik (UH 38-3)
- 1-yard TD run by Darrius Smith (UH 38-10)
- 2-yard TD run by Khalil Tate (UH 38-16)
- Colin Schooler safety (UH 38-18)
- D’Eriq King rushing TD (UH 45-18)
- Arizona WR Shawn Poindexter: 7 catches, 134 yards
- Arizona QB Khalil Tate: 24-45, 341 yards, 2 INT; 7 carries, 8 yards, 1 TD
- Arizona RB Darrius Smith: 11 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD
- Arizona total yards: 531 (337 in second half)
- Houston total yards: 551
- Arizona LB Colin Schooler: 9 tackles, 3 TFL, one safety
- Houston DT Ed Oliver: 5 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 4 QBH (sat out much of second half)
- Penalties/yards: Arizona 8-85, Houston 7-56