The Houston Cougars knew coming into the season that it would take a perfect game for them to have a legitimate argument to be included in the college football playoff at the end of the season.
Prognosticators from across the country correctly circled a couple of games on the Houston schedule as major tests for the team's effort at a perfect season. The Cougars' season opener with Oklahoma, which they won, and then the team's home game with Louisville in November were obvious picks for contests the Cougars could be tested the most in.
In the end, it was the Navy triple-option offense that seemed cause the most problems for the Cougars so far this season. The Midshipmen racked up over 300 rushing yards, a pair of out of the ordinary scores through the air and four Cougars turnovers to pull of the upset. It of course did not help that senior outside linebacker Tyus Bowser missed the game as he continues to recover from his broken orbital bone suffered from non-football related encounter with fellow linebacker Matthew Adams. The Cougars were also without senior linebacker Steven Taylor who missed Saturday's loss after a violation of team rules.
Give Herman credit. In a time where head coaches can find unique ways to hand out punishments to key players that allow them to still be contributors in the team's success, Herman sat his best available linebacker in a week he knew the defense would be tested.
The Cougars now move to 5-1 on the season with a 2-1 American Athletic Conference record. Tom Herman emphasized before the season that the team's goal was a conference championship and a berth into a New Years Six bowl game. Those goals are still within reach as Herman pointed out after the loss Saturday.
The Cougars can ill afford to let this loss hang over them past the weekend as they begin preparations for conference opponent Tulsa who visits the Cougars' TDECU Stadium next Saturday. Last season after the Cougars only loss of the season to Connecticut, the team played very well the remainder of the season.
As Herman and his staff get back to work Sunday they have plenty to dissect outside of the off-field issues that left them shorthanded. The Cougars had weaknesses exposed on defense that have not been seen this season and Tulsa will certainly look to capitalize. The Golden Hurricane bring a 4-1 record on the season into Houston with their lone loss coming to Ohio State. They are tied for the lead in the Western division of the American Athletic Conference with a 1-0 record.