Houston Vs. East Carolina: Cougars Defeat Pirates 56-3

Case Keenum was his usual, dominant self on Saturday, but it was the improved Houston defense that has people talking

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Cougar Defense Shines In Rout Of Pirates

The 5-0 record wasn't enough to impress the pollsters. It wasn't enough for the fans (myself included) who didn't think the Cougars had played good enough defense. Sure, there were five wins, but the team hadn't put together four full quarters of good football at a time yet. Bottom line, there were a lot of "Yeah, but"s through five games.

I guess the Coogs, especially on defense, decided they'd had enough. There will be no "Yeah, but"s after a 56-3 dismantling of East Carolina on Saturday evening, as Houston improved to 6-0, and 2-0 in Conference USA play.

The offense was as potent as ever, but it was the dominant D that was the story of the game. ECU was held to 21 yards on the ground, the lowest number Houston has allowed in a game since 2003. The Pirates threw for 263 yards, but needed 44 pass attempts to do it, and they were intercepted four times, including twice by linebacker Phillip Steward. True freshman linebacker Derrick Matthews, at one point, recorded a tackle for a loss and an interception on consecutive plays.

Houston's defense had shown flashes of potential before the ECU game, ranking in the top 25 in the nation in tackles for a loss. Even in allowing 42 points to UTEP, the defense recorded a pair of takeaways, including a fumble return for a touchdown. But on Saturday, the maddening inconsistency was finally gone, the big plays cut down enough that not only did the defense do "just enough" to allow the offense to win a shootout, it was a dominant unit that could have single-handedly won the game.

The offense was its usual, awesome self, as well, even against an ECU defense that is much improved from a year ago. Case Keenum completed 30-of-37 passes for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns, Charles Sims, Michael Hayes and Bryce Beall combined for 191 yards rushing and four scores on 30 attempts. Patrick Edwards caught 12 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, passing Cougar legends Donnie Avery and Elmo Wright in career receiving yards for second in school history. (Edwards is now 373 yards shy of Vincent Marshall for the school record.) Houston played turnover-free ball for the second straight game.

But we knew that the Cougars were going to put points up. What's exciting is the possibility that what we saw from the UH defense might not be a fluke. If coordinator Brian Stewart's group can become a true strength, the sky is the limit for this squad.

After a bye week, Houston will be back in action in two weeks at home against Marshall. While it's dangerous to get too far ahead of ourselves, with four struggling teams up next - Marshall, Rice, UAB, Tulane - there's absolutely no reason that the Cougars shouldn't find themselves 10-0 heading into a showdown with SMU on November 19. That would be unprecedented for the Cougar football program. Houston's best starts were 8-0 marks in 1979 and 1990, but both seasons saw Houston lose to UT-Austin in game nine.

But before we can think about any of that, Houston will host the Thundering Herd on October 22. If the Cougars seemed motivated to avenge their 2009 C-USA championship game loss against ECU on Saturday night, you'd have to believe they'll be amped up against Marshall to get some payback for a 2008 upset loss that saw Edwards suffer a season-ending injury.

In the even more immediate future, Houston heads into its bye week, and for the first time all season, doesn't have anything glaring to try and fix. The Cougars also carry the distinction of being the only unbeaten team in the state of Texas. That's a pretty good feeling.

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Houston Vs. East Carolina: Cougars Defeat Pirates 56-3 To Improve To 6-0

The Houston Cougars improved to 6-0 after defeating the East Carolina Pirates 56-3 in a game where Houston quarterback Case Keenum passed former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury for most passing yards in NCAA history and now only trails former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang.

Keenum ended up with 304 passing yards on 30-for-37 passing attempts and had three touchdown passes on the night. Most of the work was done in the first half as Keenum passed for 229 yards and two of his touchdown passes. In the second half Houston took to the running game and as a team finished with 215 yards and five touchdowns were led by Charles Sims had 84 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston is accustomed to getting into shootouts, but not tonight as their defense held East Carolina to only three points and force four turnovers on the night. Those four turnovers Houston turned into 21 points.

Houston is now 6-0 on the year and host the Marshall Thundering Herd next Saturday.

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Houston Vs. East Carolina: Cougars Routing Pirates 35-3 At The Half

The Houston Cougars are on their way to a 6-0 record by using balanced combination of their high-powered passing attack and a running game to pull away from East Carolina. The Houston defense also has been performing well with two sacks and forced two East Carolina turnovers and Houston took those two turnovers to score 14 points.

Houston's scoring drives have all been quick strikes with four drives under three minutes and their longest touchdown drive was their first of the game and that lasted 5:17 went 80 yards and took 15 plays.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum is on pace for another huge game as he is 22-for-29 with 229 yards in the first half and two touchdown passes. Patrick Edwards has been Keenum's favorite target as he has caught 10 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

The running game has played nearly as big a part of the offense as the passing game. The Cougars have 115 yards rushing at the half with three touchdowns. Charles Sims is leading Houston in the running game with two touchdowns and 57 yards on only seven carries.

At the end of the first half Houston quarterback Case Keenum passed former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury to move into second place on the all-time NCAA passing yards list and now only trails former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang.

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Houston Vs. East Carolina: TV Schedule, Radio Coverage And More

The Houston Cougars are hosting the East Carolina Pirates and Houston is looking to start 6-0 for the first time in a long time. Houston is looking to continue their best start since 2006 where they started the season 4-0. 

Houston has the nation's top passing offense by averaging 451.2 yards per game with Case Keenum leading the way however East Carolina is 25th in the nation and allows only 183.8 passing yards per game, so something will have to give for one of these schools.

Game date, time: 6:00 p.m. CT, Saturday Oct. 8

Location: John O Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium, Houston Texas

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: Sports Talk 790 AM

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Keenum, Cougars Look To Stay Unbeaten, Take Care Of Pirates At Home

Can Houston improve to 6-0 tonight? I think so..

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