Tuesday, October 11, 2016

This election

On one hand, I'm not looking forward to four more weeks of this putrid shitshow. I wish this election were over today.

On the other hand, it's kind of interesting to watch one of this nation's two major political parties tear itself apart. (Nominations have consequences!)

It's a great time to be a political scientist, I guess. For the rest of us, this just sucks.

#6 Houston 40, Navy 46

The sixth-ranked Cougars had no answer for Navy’s triple-option and Greg Ward Jr. committed three turnovers in a 46-40 loss to the Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. 
The Midshipmen rolled to 306 rushing yards against the nation’s top-ranked run defense that played without another key player for the second week in a row due to disciplinary measures. 
Linebacker Steven Taylor was suspended for the game for what the school said was a violation of team policy. 
Tied 20-20 at halftime, Navy broke the game open by scoring touchdowns off turnovers on the Cougars’ first two possessions of the second half. 
Ward was sacked and fumbled on the Cougars’ first possession after halftime. Navy quarterback Will Worth faked the toss and hit a wide-open Darryl Bonner for a 17-yard touchdown. 
On the Cougars’ next series, Josiah Powell intercepted Ward for the second time in the game and went 34 yards for the touchdown and 34-20 lead.
The Bad: Greg Ward Jr did not have a good day with his three turnovers - he was also sacked twice - but he nevertheless managed to pass for 359 yards and two touchdowns and rush for another 94 yards and a touchdown. The problem was that most of those rushing yards were broken play scrambles; the Cougar run offense struggled without starting running back Duke Catalon, who was out with an injury, and only managed 125 yards on the afternoon. That being said, a bright spot was walk-on Dillon Birden, who rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass.

The Ugly: As bad as the offense looked, they still scored 40 points, which would normally be enough to win a football game. The real problem was the defense, which simply could not stop the Midshipmen. The Cougar rushing defense had been one of the best in the nation coming into Saturday's game, but against Navy they were utterly helpless. They were especially bad containing the outside runs and pitches, and their tackling was atrocious. The defense allowed Navy to dominate the game clock and could not come up with any turnovers of their own. It's hard to win when you're -3 in turnovers, especially on the road.

Navy QB Will Worth, for his part, racked up 115 rushing yards on 32 carries; he only completed three of five passes, but two of those were for touchdowns.

The Cougars clearly missed several players on defense, including cornerback Brandon Wilson, who has been injured since the Cincinnati game, as well as three starting linebackers: Tyus Bowser was out with a skull fracture suffered as a result of a fight with Matthew Adams, who was also held out of the game as a disciplinary measure; as for Steven Taylor, well, I hope whatever he did to get suspended from this game was worth it.

The Uglier: As if it couldn't get any worse, Houston's special teams were putrid. They gave up a 85-yard kickoff return that led to Navy's first touchdown, missed an extra point and muffed a punt for a safety late in the fourth quarter, which sealed the loss.

The Ugliest: This team was clearly not prepared to play on Saturday; they were making poor decisions, forgetting fundamentals (especially tackling), and simply looked a step slow. That's on the coaching staff. Tom Herman, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and the rest of the staff had almost a week and a half to prepare for this game. They did a poor job.

Given Saturday's lack of focus, and the disciplinary problems that have suddenly become an issue, one had to wonder if the insufferable "where is Tom Herman going next season" media circus is finally getting to the players, and if he is losing the team.

What It Means: The Cougars fell to #12 in the Coaches poll and #13 in the AP poll as a result of this loss, and whatever slim shot they had to make the College fotball Playoff has now evaporated. But even worse is that, by virtue of this loss, the Cougars could still win out and not play for the American Conference Championship and go to a New Year's Six Bowl. Since this was a in-division loss, the Cougars now need Navy to lose twice in conference in order to be guaranteed the AAC West title.

In other words, Houston could end the regular season with a 11-1 record, ranked in the top ten, and end up playing Middle Tennessee in the Boca Raton Bowl on a Tuesday night.

Next up for the Cougars is a game against Tulsa this Saturday evening at TDECU Stadium. Nothing this team can do now except brush themselves off, get back up and get back to winning.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Thanks a lot, Google.

Sometime last week, Google made an update to their Blogger software that caused the links lists (aka, my "blogroll") on this site to disappear.

There was some discussion on Google tech forums that Google would restore this particular functionality, but that has not happened. I guess this means that at some point I am going to have to recreate a blogroll from scratch.

Yes, I know that Blogger is free, yadda yadda yadda... But this is a bit of a pain in the ass.

EDIT 10/10: The blogrolls have reappeared. Never mind.

Thanks for fixing this, Google.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

#6 Houston 42, Connecticut 14

The Cougars avenged their only loss of the 2015 season before an impressive Thursday night crowd of 40,873 at TDECU Stadium by dismantling the Connecticut Huskies, 42-14.

The Good: Greg Ward Jr completed 32 of 38 passes for a career-high 389 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for an additional 65 yards and two touchdowns. One of Ward Jr's touchdown passes was a highlight-reel one-handed catch in the corner of the endzone by Linell Bonner. The Cougar defense held UConn to 62 rushing yards and has given up only 56 points through five games (the fewest points given up by the program since 1989).

The Bad: The Huskies racked up 273 passing yards and burned the Cougar secondary for a 62-yard touchdown pass late in the first half; had UConn's quarterback been a bit more accurate there might have been more scores of that type.

The Ugly: UConn linebacker Junior Joseph showed himself to be a punk-ass loser by being flagged for a personal foul penalty by getting into Greg Ward Jr's face AFTER he had thrown a touchdown pass. (!) Two UH linebackers missed this game after getting into what seems to be a nasty fight at a team event earlier this week.

What it means: revenge factor aside, the Cougars remain undefeated with this conference win. The fact that the Coogs sold over 40 thousand tickets for this Thursday night game indicates that the city has gotten on board the Cougar bandwagon.

Next up for Houston is a trip to Annapolis, Maryland to take on Navy. It won't be a walkover but Navy is not the same team they were last year.

Harris County approves plan to save the Astrodome

Although I would love to see it preserved, I have generally been skeptical about efforts to save and repurpose the Astrodome (see here, here and here) and honestly expected it to have been reduced to rubble by now. So while I'm glad to see at least some movement on the Astrodome's future, I can't really say I'm too optimistic about Harris County Commissioners Court's latest plan for the venerable stadium:
Harris County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to move forward with a major renovation project that could keep the Astrodome from being demolished for years to come.
The $10.5 million approved Tuesday is the first piece of a $105 million project that would raise the floor of the Astrodome two levels and put 1,400 parking spaces underneath. County officials believe that would make the Dome suitable for festivals or conferences and usher in potential commercial uses in the more than 550,000 square feet that surrounds the core.
Tuesday's vote signals a reversal of fate for the stadium which many thought would be demolished after Harris County voters in 2013 rejected a $217 million bond proposal that would have paid for massive renovations to the Astrodome.
Funds for the Dome's renovation will come from the County's general fund (about $30 million, which is the same amount it is estimated to cost to demolish it), hotel taxes and revenue expected to be generated from the new covered parking spaces.

While I appreciate what seems to be a rather straightforward effort to preserve the Dome, I’m skeptical that Commissioners Court’s plan will work as planned for two reasons:

First of all, NRG Stadium is already surrounded by a sea of parking, and I’ve never heard of parking supply to be a major issue during Texans games (especially since so many fans come and go by METRORail). Additional parking needs during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo seem to be adequately handled by park and ride buses as well as the empty field on the other side of 610 where Astroworld used to be. Is there really going to be strong demand for these additional spaces (which would likely cost a premium on top of the base parking fee for NRG Stadium, and which, by virtue of being in a garage, probably couldn’t be used for tailgating)? I doubt it.

Secondly, if the solution to preserving the Astrodome - turning the area below grade into parking, and using the proceeds from that parking to help turn the rest of the space into an exhibition and events venue - is so simple, then why wasn’t it done long ago? Why did elected officials debate the Astrodome’s future for so many years, entertain (oftentimes fanciful) proposals for its development, and hold a (failed) referendum when they could have just done this from the beginning? It sounds like Commissioners Court couldn't bring themselves to demolish the structure and decided to resolve the issue with a plan of last resort, regardless of how financially successful that plan might actually turn out to be.

With that said, I hope I’m wrong about this and that this proposal does work as planned. The “Eighth Wonder of the World” is as iconic a piece of architecture as there is in Houston and I believe that, from a standpoint of culture and history, it is in the city’s best interest that the Astrodome be preserved and reused.

From a standpoint of the best interests of the taxpayer, however, this plan might be a loser.

The Chronicle has more details about the plan here. More discussion at Swamplot, Culturemap and Off The Kuff.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#6 Houston 64, Texas State 3

A crowd of 33,133 - the largest in Texas State Bobcat program history - was on hand to witness a beatdown.

The Good: True freshman receiver D'Eric King caught a touchdown pass, threw a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for touchdown - the first player in program history to achieve such a program trifecta. The 61-point margin of victory was Houston's largest since the Run-and-Shoot days (they beat Louisiana Tech, 73-3, in 1991). The defense held the Bobcats to a paltry 142 yards total offense and just 33 rushing yards. The Cougars did not have any turnovers and, more remarkably, did not commit a single penalty in the entire game. 

The Bad: Kicker Ty Cummings missed two extra points. Backup running back Mulbah Car suffered an injury (that looked a lot worse than it actually turned out to be) and will be out for a few weeks. 

The Ugly: Texas State (the school, not the team) was clearly unprepared for the crowds that attended this game. Parking was a nightmare; we ended up in a remote lot on I-35 that did not allow tailgating (boo!) and we ended up making the mile-long walk to the stadium when it became apparent that the shuttle bus service was not working as planned (double boo!). Concession lines in the stadium were long and slow; we missed two UH touchdowns while standing in line for a beer.

That said, the fact that they sell beer at Bobcat Stadium is a plus, and the stadium itself is cozy and has good sight lines. They need to adjust the lighting, however; the playing field seemed kind of dim and the ribbon boards along the stadium walls should never be brighter than the lights themselves.

On the way back to the car after the game, we stopped at In-N-Out Burger (which is expanding into Texas but has not made their way into Houston yet). The burgers and fries were actually pretty good, but I can't say that they're better than Whataburger.

What it Means: Not all that much, truthfully. The Coogs did what they were expected to do against an inferior opponent (although it's still interesting to think that this same Texas State program handed the Cougars one of their most catastrophic losses just a few years ago - how times have changed!).

The Coogs' two-game road trip is over, and tomorrow night they host Connecticut in a nationally-televised ESPN game. UConn was the only team to beat Houston last year, so it's time for some revenge.

The end of summer

Could it be that we've finally reached that glorious time of year, when the droning heat and humidity of summer finally releases its grasp on Houston and lets more comfortable temperatures settle in? Eric Berger thinks so:
The front that arrived Tuesday morning has finally begun dragging drier air into Houston. Temperatures at Bush Intercontinental Airport fell below 70 degrees this morning for the first time since June 5. It’s not exactly cold, but it is cooler, and drier. And there’s more seasonably pleasant, almost fall-like weather to come.

It’s a rather simple forecast for Houston. Drier air will continue to move into the region today, and a reinforcing cool front should arrive on Thursday. Add it all up and we’ll have highs through the weekend in the 80s, with daytime temperatures in the low 80s possible on Friday and Saturday. Overnight lows should be in the 60s except for along the coast (around 70 degrees), and upper 50s for far inland areas, such as College Station. Friday and Saturday should be the coolest mornings.
It was a relief to be able to walk outside this morning and experience warm and dry, rather than hot and humid. This evening it feels even nicer outside, and the skies are clear. Highs in the 80s aren't what normally comes to mind when one thinks of "fall," but it's a welcome respite.

Furthermore, we can take heart in the fact that we once again survived the hell that is the Houston summer. That's always an accomplishment to be proud of.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

North Dakota State's win over Iowa isn't a huge upset

My post listing the top ten upsets in college football history* is now almost a decade old, and I'll probably be updating it at some point in the future. After last Saturday, the question could be asked: where would North Dakota State's 23-21 win at #13 Iowa be included on any new list of all-time college football upsets? After all, an FCS school beat a ranked FBS school - from the Big Ten, no less! - on the road, which is pretty remarkable; it's not that much different than Appalachian State's stunning 2007 win over #5 Michigan that tops my current list.

The answer: it won't. It wasn't a huge upset, and is certainly not among the greatest upsets in college football history. Anybody with any knowledge of North Dakota State's program could have reasonably expected this outcome to occur.

The NDSU Bison are an FCS powerhouse. The program has won five (!) FCS championships in a row. From the beginning of the 2011 season going into Saturday's game, the Bison were 73-5. During that time they've defeated FBS schools Kansas State, Iowa State, Colorado State and Minnesota.

As I wrote in my 2007 post, what I consider to be the "biggest upsets" in college football are those
...which occur when one program is so thoroughly outclassed and so overwhelmingly outmatched by another in terms of stature, resources, and/or athletic potential that it shouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hades of winning, yet actually pulls it off.
This simply does not apply to North Dakota State. They might nominally be an FCS program, but they are so talented and well-coached that they could beat just about any FBS program; "outclassed" and "outmatched" they most certainly are not. As USA Today's Dan Wolken notes, NDSU's defeat of Iowa doesn't seem like an upset because "it’s just what North Dakota State does."

On a related note, FCS upsets of ranked FBS teams, while still a rarity, are no longer unheard of. Since Appalachian State's upset of Michigan in 2007, we've seen James Madison knock off #13 Virginia Tech 21-16 in 2010 and Eastern Washington beat #25 Oregon State 49-45 in 2013. (And don't even get me started on FCS victories over unranked FBS teams, which happen pretty frequently: there were three of them - all against teams from so-called "Power Five" conferences - on the first Saturday of this season alone.)

FCS victories over FBS programs are noteworthy, due to the advantages the FBS schools typically have over FCS schools in terms of fan support, facilities and scholarships. But they do happen, because Any Given Saturday. Moreover, North Dakota State is not a typical FCS program. They are as dominant a program as there is in any level of college football right now, and their victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes, while admirable, is simply not extraordinary.

See here and here for my previous thoughts on the subject of FCS teams defeating FBS schools.

(*Since I wrote my post in 2007, other top ten college football upset lists have been created. Check out these slideshows from bleacherreport.com and fansided.com.)

The summer 2015 Eastern Caribbean Adventure

A little over a year ago, my parents, Kirby and myself took a trip to Puerto Rico and a handful of island nations in the Eastern Caribbean. After I returned, I began writing the following entry, but never completed it, and essentially forgot all about it. A few weeks ago, when I started thinking about writing about my summer 2016 trip to Europe, I realized that I never posted anything about my previous summer's adventure.

I thought about finishing this entry and postdating it to last summer as a retroblog. I also thought about just hitting the "delete" button and forgetting all about it. In the end, I decided to just finish it and post it today, because even though the trip is over a year old at this point, it was still a lot of fun and is definitely worth sharing. Besides, here's nothing here that's particularly dated: the things we visited and the sights we saw are all still there.

The trip consisted of a week on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas (which sails to the Leeward Islands out of San Juan), followed by a week at a timeshare in the Isla Verde area of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We got there via United's nonstop service from IAH to San Juan.

The Adventure of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class of vessels, and was the largest cruise ship in the world when it* was launched in 2001. Even though I know there are now bigger and better cruise ships out there, I was still pretty impressed by it (this was only the second time in my life that I had ever been on a cruise, and the previous cruise had been aboard a ship that was much older and smaller).

The Royal Promenade down the center of the ship contains stores, bars and restaurants. The food and service aboard the ship were top-notch, and drinks, while pricey, were not outrageously expensive. On-board wifi, on the other hand, was ridiculously costly. We took advantage of free wifi at restaurants and bars in our ports of call.

The four of us opted for "official" royal Caribbean Shore excursions at each port. Some travelers prefer not to use in-house shore excursions because of cost or inflexibility, but we had no complaints with any of ours.

Our first port of call was Philipsburg, on the Dutch-administered south side of the island of Saint Martin (the north side of the island is administered by France). One of St. Maarten's better known attractions is Maho Beach, located directly at the end of the runway for Princess Juliana Airport. Our tour boat anchored right off the beach, so we could snorkel, drink and relax when we weren't watching the planes pass next to us. The Delta flight in the picture above was coming in from JFK.

Here's a video I took of a KLM 747 from Amsterdam on final approach. Pretty impressive. If you go to St. Maarten, I highly recommend our operator, Airport Adventure SXM. They were very friendly and helpful.

As I noted in my original list of countries I've visited, I've now been to three out of the four "constituent countries" of the Netherlands. (You're next, Curaçao!)

Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit the French side of the island. Maybe next time...

Our second port of call was St. Kitts and Nevis, which is the smallest independent nation in North America. Here, we rode the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, which is a tourist train operating on a rail line that used to be used for transporting sugar cane.

The scenery from the train is very picturesque, and it didn't hurt that they provided us with plenty of rum punch and traditional snacks during our journey. This is the only active railway in the West Indies.

This is the remnant of an old sugar cane refinery on St. Kitts. The cone-shaped building on the left was a windmill and the smokestack is on the right. The island of St. Kitts is dotted with these ruins. However, sugar production is no longer a profitable industry for St. Kitts, and the economy is being diversified into other sectors such as tourism.

Of all the islands we visited during our cruise, St. Kitts appeared to be the least developed. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; there's something to be said for a country that doesn't have a single traffic light!

Our third stop was Antigua, the larger of the two islands that comprise the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. We took a bus tour of the island and stopped at many scenic overlooks, including this vista of English Harbour from Shirley Heights.

My father surveys some of the buildings at Nelson's Dockyard, which was named after Lord Horatio Nelson (the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar). This was a key Caribbean base for the British Royal Navy during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It keeps its British charm to this day, right down to the red phone booth in the background.

Our fourth port of call was the beautiful and lush volcanic island of St. Lucia. This is a view of Marigot Bay, which is just south of the island's capital city of Castries. The island was the object of back-and-forth fighting between France and Great Britain for centuries, which is why most of the island's place names are French even though the island's official language is English.

This is a picture of St. Lucia's iconic Pitons - Gros Piton in the back and Petit Piton in the front - with the town of Soufrière in the foreground. Traveling from the capital of Castries to Soufrière required a lengthy bus ride over winding mountain roads, but the scenery was worth the trip. In Soufrière, we also toured a delightful botanical garden as well as the Caribbean's only drive-in volcanic crater.

Our fifth and final stop was Barbados. Unlike the other islands of volcanic origin we visited, Barbados is a coral island. Therefore, its terrain is gentle and rolling, rather than mountainous, and is heavily cultivated. Barbados also appeared to be the most economically-developed of all the islands we visited.

One of our stops during our bus tour of Barbados was Orchid World, with its impressive gardens full of - you guessed it - orchids. We also made a stop at the Sunbury Plantation House, where we dined on Bajan snacks and drinks.

Barbados is famous for its rum, and Chesterfield Browne is one of the "faces" of Mount Gay Rum. Here he poses for my camera at the distillery's visitor center in the capital city of Bridgetown while he prepares a rum tasting for my group. I did the rum tasting tour with a few Royal Caribbean employees who were on shore leave, which was kind of fun.

One thing that was really cool about the cruise was that, with the exception of St. Maarten, every island we visited was its own independent nation. While there are a lot of similarities between St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados - language, currency, a fanatical devotion to cricket, even the Queen as the nominal head of state - each has its own unique culture and characteristics, and it's fun to say that we truly visited a different country every day of our cruise.

After we returned to San Juan, we disembarked from the ship and made our way to a timeshare along the Isla Verde beach near San Juan. We only spent one day at the beach, however; there were just so many other things to see and do in Puerto Rico!

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest Service system, and is an easy drive from San Juan. This view of the forest was taken from atop the Yokahu Tower within the forest.

The forest has a nice visitors center and many hiking trails, where the lush beauty of El Yunque can be observed up close.

This is the red-painted San Juan Gate, which leads into the walled Spanish colonial city of Old San Juan.

Kirby sits atop a wall overlooking the courtyard of San Felipe del Morro fortress on the northwestern tip of Old San Juan. The Spanish used this fortification to defend San Juan from British and Dutch attacks until 1898, when it was taken over by the US military. During World War II it was used to keep watch for German U-Boats. Today, the fortress is operated by the National Park Service.

A rusty old cannon peers through an embrasure cut into San Felipe del Morro's walls. Behind the parapet is the top of one of the distinctive guard towers, or garitas, that dot the walls of Old San Juan and its fortifications.

A couple of hours to the east of San Juan is the Camuy River Cave Park. The caves were formed by the underground Camuy River. Due to low light levels, the above picture simply does not to justice to the massive Cueva Clara chamber, with its stalactites, stalagmites and other cave features.

Not far from the Camuy Caves is the massive Arecibo Observatory. Although popularly associated with searches for extraterrestrial life (through projects such as the Arecibo Message and its appearance in TV shows such as The X Files and movies such as Contact), much of the research conducted by this radio telescope centers on radio astronomy and atmospheric research. 

Puerto Rico Highway 22 is technically part of the Interstate Highway System, although it is not signed as such. It's designed to interstate standards, with the exception that the highway signs are in Spanish rather than English and are marked in kilometers rather than miles. The speed limits, however, are all marked in miles, which might be confusing. The big yellow vehicle to the left is a "zipper"machine that moves the movable barrier between the inside lanes of the highway during rush hour, so that the peak direction gets an extra lane.

We actually sent a couple of days exploring Old San Juan. The colonial city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, is very picturesque, with colorful colonial buildings and narrow cobblestone streets. Bars, restaurants, art galleries, boutique hotels and jewelry stores are among the businesses found within Old San Juan.

  I took this video from atop Fort San Cristobal, another former Spanish fortification and current Nation Park property on the northeast of Old San Juan.You can see San Felipe del Morro in the distance, as well as Old San Juan, the Puerto Rico Capitol Building, and some of the high rises of modern San Juan.

Puerto Rico was facing a host of crushing economic problems when we visited, and those problems have only gotten worse in the year since we took our trip. The island is straining under a massive $72 billion debt load, the island's economy is shrinking, and it it is hemorrhaging population as Puerto Ricans make their way to the US mainland in search of better jobs and quality of life. The summer we visited the island was also being ravaged by a drought; several restaurants that we visited gave us bottled water to drink because water rationing meant that they had no water service that particular day. (The drought situation seems to be better now.) Furthermore, tourism is the lifeblood of the Puerto Rican economy, and there seemed to be a lot of concern about improved relations with Cuba and the possibility that tourists will begin visiting that island instead of Puerto Rico because it is cheaper. All in all, it's a very sad fate to what is otherwise a very beautiful island.

With all that said, it was a great trip and one that I had been meaning to take for a long time. The week at sea + week at a timeshare combination worked out very well for us (especially since my parents collect timeshares like some people collect stamps and can easily exchange them for places like where we stayed in Isla Verde) and we'll probably do it again on future adventures.

*I do not subscribe to the ridiculous and archaic practice of using feminine pronouns like "she" or "her" when referring to maritime vessels. Cruise ships are inanimate objects that do not possess gender.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#6 Houston 40, Cincinnati 16

As it turns out, I was right to be worried about this game. The Cougars struggled through the first three quarters, and when Cincinnati scored a touchdown to take a 12-16 lead early in the fourth quarter, I was really concerned. But the Coogs rallied from that point forward, rattling off 28 unanswered points (including two touchdowns on back-to-back pick-sixes) to secure the road win.

The Good: Greg Ward, Jr completed 24 of 36 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns; the UH ground attack netted a total of 180 rushing yards. The Cougar defense, meanwhile, held Cincinnati to only 30 total rushing yards, and contributed 16 points to the final score in the form of two pick-sixes and a safety.

The Bad: The Cougars looked sloppy on offense through much of the game. Greg Ward, Jr threw two interceptions, including the one that led to Cincinnati's go-ahead touchdown. Bearcat quarterback Hayden Moore attacked the UH secondary to the tune of 275 passing yards and two touchdowns. UH cornerback Harold Wilson dropped a sure pick-six in the first half that would have turned the tide of the game much earlier had he held on (he made up for it with a pick-six in the fourth).

The Bizarre: This fumble recovery by Cincinnati, late in the first half, led to a Bearcat field goal right before halftime (via SBNation):

What it means: This was probably the Cougars' biggest road test, and they passed. This is not to say that trips to Navy, Memphis or even SMU will be easy; every opponent is going to give the Coogs their best shot from here on out. However, this game was especially tough because the Cougars were playing a road game (in a stadium they haven't won at since 1971), on a short week of rest, against a pretty good Cincinnati team that they only beat by three points at home last year. And they didn't just escape Nippert Stadium with a win; they imposed their will on the Bearcats in the fourth quarter and made a statement.

Next up for the Cougars is a September 24 trip to San Marcos to face the Texas State Bobcats.