UH/USF: the weirdest FBS game of 2021

Houston Cougar football is #17 in the AP Poll with Auburn one spot ahead of them. UH basketball is #15 in the AP with Alabama a spot in front of them.

Two kick returns for scores, a safety, and a 90+ yard touchdown run. I don’t have to look that up to confidently say it’s never happened in a UH game before. And but for an unnecessary hold, there would have been a 100-yard INT return by Marcus Jones.

There were six players in the game with 100+ all-purpose yards and would have been seven if Jones’ INT return would have stood. I can’t remember ever seeing that.

Lane Wilkins has punted 78 times in his career and teams have a total of 47 return yards against him. He is 16th in net punting this year.

Alton McCaskill is tied for 12th nationally with 12 rushing touchdowns. McCaskill is already in the top 10 for rushing TDs scored in a season at UH. He needs two more until he is in a tie for third, three more until he ties Jackie Battle’s 2006 season (15 rushing TDs) for second all-time. Greg Ward Jr. is first with 21 in 2015.

McCaskill ran for 125 yards and 3 scores Saturday. It was the 35th time in UH history that a player ran for 100 yards and scored 3 TDs.

Clayton Tune’s passer rating of 243.2 in the USF game is the 11th-highest in UH history. If the season ended today, Tune’s 2021 passer rating of 163.24 would be the third-highest efficiency season ever (174.0 Case Keenum 2011, 167.0 D’Eriq King 2018). Tune’s pace is just ahead of Kevin Kolb’s 2006 season (162.7).

Going into this season, there had been 437 kickoffs returned 100 yards in NCAA history in approximately 81,000 games (.00539 per game). There have been four in the last two UH games. Remarkable.

Two weeks ago, UH was 10th in the country in kick return defense. 10th!

UH is now 128th.

In 75 years and 7 weeks of UH football (849 games), there had been 25 total plays of 97+ yards. Seventeen of them by UH and 8 by opponents.

In the last two weeks, that number has gone up by five. SMU’s 100-yard kick return to start the second half, Marcus Jones’ response at the end of the game, USF’s two 100-yard kick returns, and Ta’Zhawn Henry’s 97-yard run.

Henry checks the videoboard to see how close USF defenders are / Photo by Jason Roberts (courtesy UH Athletics)

Fan of the game – just after Henry’s TD

The USF game was the first time in UH history that three plays of 90+ yards occurred. Two 90+ yard plays have happened once, the rainy Thursday night vs. Rice in 2011. Tyron Carrier took the opening kickoff 100 yards and Rice’s Tyler Smith went for a 97-yard TD.

The Coogs averaged .83 points per play against USF which was fourth in the country last week. For the season, UH is 8th in FBS in points per play.

UH is 64th in total offense (yards), almost dead-center in the country (130 teams). But the Coogs are 10th in scoring offense. How? UH is 34th in kick returns, 8th in punt returns, and sixth in turnover margin. UH has hovered around 10th-best this year in field position.

UH has scored 21+ points in every game this season. If that streak continues, it will be the 5th time UH has done so in the last 15 years. Dana Holgorsen has been part of four (2008, 2009, 2019, 2021) of the five (also happened in 2011).

UH did not record a sack in the USF game, the first time that’s happened since Cincinnati last season. The Cougars dropped from first nationally (4.25 sacks pg) to 4th (3.67) in the category.

The Cougars gave up eight third-down conversions to USF, tied for the most given up since Memphis 2019. UH gave up 8 third-downs to UCF and Navy in 2020 – the Bulls are the first team to do it in 2021. UH dropped from 1st nationally to 4th in this category as well. UH’s first eight opponents averaged 3.375 third-down conversions a game.

This week will be the first time UH has played Temple since the infamous 2018 game. That day, Temple finished with 8 rushing touchdowns, setting a UH record for most rush TDs given up in a game. Army tied that number in the bowl game that same season.

The USF game was the first time UH has had multiple 100+ yard receivers in the Dana Holgorsen regime and just the second game with two 100+ rushers.

It is the 38th time UH has had two 100-yard receivers, 21 of which have occurred this century. It is the 58th time UH has had multiple guys over 100 yards on the ground but just the 8th this century.


UH is rewarded after a 30-year realignment odyssey

Note: The University of Houston will join the Big 12 on July 1, 2023. The University of Houston's move to the Big 12 is...

Baseball Is Not Close To Making A Regional

Houston Cougar Baseball's strong run in the AAC Conference Tournament ended in the title game vs. ECU. That run closed out a solid season...

JT ties UH’s John Mahaffey for largest PGA Comeback Ever

On Sunday, Justin Thomas came from seven shots back to win the PGA Championship in Tulsa. Thomas played his last 13 holes in six-under...

Annie Kim is *finally* ready to represent UH in the NCAAs

Like everyone else, UH women's golf lost a season to the pandemic in 2020. Then, a year ago, they lost their NCAA hopes when...

May 1971: UH is invited to the Southwest Conference

On the morning of May 3, 1971, in a conference room in College Station, the University of Houston had one of its biggest athletics...