The Houston Cougars throttled Louisville 36-10, proving that they can beat any team in the country.

Make no mistake about it: this is an impressive victory for Tom Herman’s squad. Louisville has been one of the most dominant teams in the country this fall, ranking in the top 10 in both total offense (1st) and total defense (6th) heading into Thursday night’s game. Because of this excellence on both sides of the ball, many college football experts thought that the Cardinals would qualify for the College Football Playoff if they were to win out.

We’ll never know if that’s true or not. Houston destroyed Louisville’s playoff hopes with a dominant first half. The Cougars took the lead just 11 seconds into the contest, after a fumble recovery on the opening kickoff gave them the ball at the Cardinal 13-yard line. The UH defense would set up another score later in the opening stanza, forcing a fumble at the UL 37, resulting in a 33-yard field goal by Ty Cummings.

The Cougars broke the game wide open in the second quarter thanks to some trickeration. Houston ran a fake punt on fourth-and-13 at the Louisville 44, which kept the drive alive and allowed the Cougars to take a 17-0 lead. Later in the period, the team would dip into its bag of tricks again, with Greg Ward throwing a backwards pass to Linell Bonner, who threw downfield to a wide-open Chance Allen for a 50-yard TD strike.

Of course, Houston didn’t need for its offense to do very much in order to get a “W” in this contest. The Cougar front seven dominated the line of scrimmage from the opening whistle. The Cardinal offensive line simply couldn’t block the UH defensive line, which sacked Lamar Jackson 11 times, and forced him to throw the ball away on a number of occasions. As a result of the constant bombardment of pressure, Jackson – considered by many to be the front-runner in the Heisman Trophy race – had his worst outing of the year, completing just 20 of 43 passes.

This lopsided victory proves that Houston is capable of beating just about anyone. Although the Cougars defeated Oklahoma in the season opener, some people dismissed that result as a fluke after the team lost to Navy and SMU. However, Houston silenced those critics on Thursday night by holding Louisville to a season-low 312 yards of total offense.

By comparison, Clemson – currently ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings and 14th nationally in total defense – gave up 568 yards against Louisville back on October 1.

That, my friends, speaks volumes about how good Houston’s defense is when it’s completely healthy. While the Cougars won’t get a chance to play in the College Football Playoff or even one of the prestigious New Year’s Day bowl games, they showed the entire nation that they could win one of those contests if given the opportunity.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

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