Houston Vs. SMU: Mid-Majors Take Center Stage As ESPN Focuses On Cougars' BCS Hopes

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 10: Patrick Edwards #83 of the University of Houston Cougars celebrates a touchdown against the Tulane Green Wave with teammates during a game being held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 10, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Houston hopes to live up to the hype this time around, starting with a huge in-state game against the Mustangs Saturday.

The Houston Cougars will take center stage on Saturday, when ESPN brings its rolling "Gameday" circus to campus for the Cougars' toughest game to date, against Conference USA rival SMU. If the sudden national interest in head coach Kevin Sumlin, record-breaking quarterback Case Keenum and the potential BCS busting aspirations of the Cougars feels like deja vu, it is: two years ago the Cougars experienced the same kind of attention before crumbling under its weight.

The '09 Cougars lost three of their last five games (including the C-USA Championship to East Carolina) andfinished the year unranked. Sumlin is mindful now of what not to do as outside attention builds:

"I think we have handled it better this year as a team and as players. I think I have handled it better this year. I am always learning. Sometimes dealing with success is more difficult than dealing with failure. Fortunately, we have a group of guys who have been through this before. I am not just talking about the seniors, but also the juniors who were here two years ago. We went from no attention to overnight attention.

Unless you have been through it, it can be hard to handle. We are in the business of building a program. Part of building a program is you have to go through positive and negative outcomes. I have been impressed with how the players and the coaches have approached this on a day-to-day basis.

For more on the Cougars and SMU, as well as everything college football, visit SB Nation's college football page.

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