Good football teams make a statement in September. They grind it out in November so they can win titles the first weekend in December. And a few of those champions become etched in history in the early days of January.
But where does that leave October?
October is probably the most important month in the football season. That’s when contenders are separated from the pretenders. Conference action dominates the month and by Halloween, we’ll know who’s scary and who’s just dressed up.
In recent years, October has generally told UH fans exactly what kind of team they have. Last year’s losses to Tulsa and Memphis killed any chance of contending for the West. Same for 2016, when UH slipped up at Navy and ruined what could have been.
In 2015, the Coogs first-appeared in the rankings in October and by the Vandy game on Halloween, the HTownTakeover was starting to dominate.
Overall, UH has been pretty good in October in the last decade.
But many of those 11 losses have been brutal: the Patrick Edwards incident at Marshall in 2008, losing at Rice in 2010, the 72-42 loss at SMU in 2012, the UCF debacle in 2013 (but that gave us Greg Ward!), the 46-40 loss to Navy in the rain in 2016, and the blowout to Tulsa last year.
Speaking of Greg Ward: after coming in for John O’Korn in the UCF game on October 2, 2014, Ward went 24-2 in his first 26 starts (both losses can be 100% attributed to Travis Bush).
In its history, UH has won 10 or more games 8 times. Those eight teams combined to go 27-4 in the month of October. Since 1979, five of the 6 UH teams that won 10 games had a perfect October.
What about going undefeated in October?
That list includes UH’s first-ever Bluebonnet Bowl team, 2 Cotton Bowl teams, the TicketCity Bowl champs and the Peach Bowl champs.
In the last decade – 2009, 2011, and 2015 – UH went undefeated in their October games. The Coogs played for the conference championship all 3 years and won 10 games in all three.
Those UH teams that have gone undefeated in October have generally finished the season ranked – it’s happened 7 of 8 times, in fact. UH went into the C-USA title game in 2009 at 10-2 but lost in Greenville and in the Armed Forces Bowl to slip out of the final rankings.
Of course, there’s always an exception. In 1962, Coach Yeoman’s first year, the Cougars went winless in October, scoring just 13 points in 4 losses. That team went undefeated in September, November, and December to post a 7-4 record.
Going into this October, expectations are high for the Cougars. With Navy and Memphis combining for 3 conference losses already, UH has control of the division without even playing an AAC game.
This month, UH hosts Tulsa before trips to ECU and Navy and then comes home for USF on the 27th. My expectations are at least 3 wins this month and but honestly, I’m pretty much expecting four. If this team wants to put itself into the NY6 conversation, a 4-0 October is essential.
Cover Photo By Mario Puente
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