The month of November is one of my favorite months of the entire year. You have Thanksgiving and of course a whole lot of football. While the turkey and dressing may steal the spotlight, for college football fans, this month is known as championship November.
While there are teams still fighting for a Big 12 title, there are other teams fighting to make a bowl game. The matchup between Baylor and Houston on Saturday afternoon was all about getting to six wins. Both teams entered the day with a 3-5 record and every game down the stretch matters. In the end, Houston came out on top 25-24 in overtime. Here are my three thoughts on the game.
Houston Found a Way
Sometimes, winning can be ugly but as long as you win it doesn’t really matter. Houston was in control of the game late and then missed a few opportunities to close the game in regulation. With just a little over five minutes to play and up by seven, the Cougars defense forced a turnover to five their offense great field position. Houston’s offense made it to the Baylor 26-yard line with less than three minutes left and Jack Martin was attempting a 44-yard field goal to ice the game. Martin ended up missing the kick and in the blink of an eye, Baylor tied the game with 29 seconds left.
In overtime, Baylor scored quickly to go up by seven. With the game on the line, quarterback Donovan Smith moved the offense and was able to score from the one-yard line. Then to my surprise, Dana Holgorsen decided to go for two and it paid off as Smith ran it in to win the game.
I have been hard on this Houston team this season because they have been so inconsistent. One week they can hang with almost anyone and the next week they look like they have forgotten how to play football. The player that holds this team together is Donovan Smith. He certainly has had some ups and downs this season but when the game is on the line, you want the ball in his hands and that is exactly what Houston did to win the game.
Baylor Started Slow
As good as Baylor played late in the game, I just wonder where that was in the first three and a half quarters? What I watched was an offense that looked lifeless out there much like the crowd that showed up at McLane Stadium.
If not for a trick play late in the third quarter, Baylor wouldn’t have even been in a position to win this game. It took them nearly 40 minutes to score a single point. The lack of a running game early on was concerning and I will say that if this offense didn’t have Blake Shapen, they wouldn’t have even scored ten points. His effort was incredible, especially late in the game. The man converted a fourth and long with the game on the line to keep his team in it.
I don’t know what it is about this team and starting off slow. It seems like each week they look unprepared and unmotivated in the first half of games. In fact, I can only think of two games this entire season where Baylor played well in the first half. If this team wants to go to a bowl game, then they can’t have any more slow starts because they will need to play well for four full quarters.
Who is Going Bowling?
This game was huge for bowl implications. Houston now moves to 4-5 on the year with three games left against Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and UCF. They will need to win two out of their last three to become bowl eligible. Call me crazy but I think they can pull it off. Getting to six wins in year one of the Big 12 would be a nice step in the right direction for this program.
As for Baylor, their future looks a little bleaker. They are now 3-6 after this loss and they still have to play Kansas State and TCU on the road before hosting West Virginia in the final regular season game. Since they are already at six losses on the year, that means that they would have to win all three of their remaining games to get to six wins. I am sorry Baylor fans, but I just don’t see that happening.