Star quarterback Case Keenum was lost for the season Sept. 18.
The Cougars' hopes of winning the Conference USA title pretty much were lost for the season Oct. 16.
None of the rest of the Cougars' star-studded offensive cast has stepped up to carry the burden in Keenum's absence.
Sure, the Cougars' surprising 34-31 loss to cross-town rival Rice only drops the Cougars to 2-1 in C-USA play, but it has been painfully apparent since Keenum's departure that the team has no confidence in its offense with true freshmen Terrance Broadway and David Piland running the show.
Saturday, Piland threw for an impressive 282 yards and three touchdowns, but he also had an interception on the opening drive that set up a Rice touchdown and fumbled a snap on a fourth-down play to end a drive in Rice territory with less than two minutes left in the game.
"Whether you battle back or don't, it's still frustrating to lose," coach Kevin Sumlin told the Houston Chronicle. "There are a bunch of different plays in this game that affected the outcome, not just the last play."
The Cougars play four of their final six games on the road, including next week at SMU.
Because of the lack of usual firepower on offense, or at least the offense's inability to put up numbers when it counts, the focus in the second half of the season has quickly transferred from a C-USA title to a desperate push just to reach bowl eligibility.