If you're the optimistic kind of Cougar fan who thinks this year's squad has the potential to run the table, Houston's future opponents didn't do a lot to frighten you in week one of the 2010 college football season.
I'm not saying you can necessarily draw too much from the Coogs' 68-28 victory over Division 1-AA opponent Texas State (which was actually 68-7 early in the third quarter before Houston called off the dogs), but they sure looked a lot better than most of these schools:
UTEP -- beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 31-10. A win's a win, but color me unimpressed with a Miner performance which included a halftime lead of just four points against a team that went 3-4 in the SWAC last year.
UCLA -- lost to Kansas State, 31-22. Sure, it's a road loss to a Big XII team, but K-State isn't that good, and the Bruins (especially sophomore QB Kevin Prince) looked uninspiring. The talented Bruin secondary did hold the Wildcats to 64 yards passing.
Tulane -- beat Southeastern Louisiana, 27-21. Teams who beat SELA by more than six last year include South Dakota, Stephen F. Austin and Nicholls State. If Tulane was instantly demoted to the SWAC, would you bet any kind of money on it winning the conference? Me neither.
Mississippi State and Memphis -- MSU wins, 49-7. In a match-up of two schools Houston faces this year, the Bulldogs ran away early. Memphis is probably one of the ten worst teams in Division 1-A football, but MSU is also a good team. I'm glad we don't have to face them on the road again this year.
Rice -- lost to Texas-Austin, 34-17. The Owls turned in one of the most impressive performances of a C-USA squad in week one, despite losing. The boys from South Main took a 3-0 lead after a quarter, and never let the Longhorns get too comfortable. Sam McGuffie's Rice debut was less than stellar, however -- 14 carries for 47 yards.
SMU and Texas Tech -- Tech wins, 35-27. Again, it's two teams Houston will have to face, so it's hard to know how to rate this one in terms of what it means for Houston. Tech QB Taylor Potts torched the inexperienced Mustang secondary for 359 yards and four scores, but Baron Batch earned just 52 yards on 15 carries. For SMU, Kyle Padron struggled somewhat (21-for-38, three picks), but RB Zach Line (12 carries for 72 yards and a TD) looked like a capable replacement for the graduated Shawnbrey McNeal.
Central Florida -- beat South Dakota, 38-7. Not a stellar showing against a 1-AA foe, but the Knights had an easy time running the ball, and dominated the time of possession -- exactly what they did to defeat Houston last year.
Tulsa -- lost to East Carolina, 51-49. A game which saw 47 points scored in the fourth quarter ended on a 33-yard Hail Mary for an ECU touchdown as time expired. The Pirates are two-time reigning C-USA champs, but they are also in a big rebuilding year and are under a first-year head coach introducing a new offensive system. If Pirate QB Dominique Davis can throw for 383 yards on the TU secondary, Case Keenum might throw for 700.
Southern Miss -- lost to South Carolina, 41-13. The final score doesn't even indicate what kind of carnage took place in Columbia on Thursday. Unless you were watching, you can't appreciate just how much USM did not belong on the same field as the Gamecocks. Can that change between now and November 20th? Sure, but this definitely wasn't a good sign.