UCF Holds Off Houston For American Athletic Conference Lead
Although conferences changed, the rivalry between UCF (6-1, 4-0 The American) and Houston (7-2, 4-1) was intense as ever. UCF held on to beat the Cougars 19-14 in front of 44,665 fans at Bright House Networks Stadium Nov. 9 putting them in the driver’s seat for the American Athletic Conference’s BCS bid.
“I thought that the atmosphere was outstanding tonight,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “It looked like everybody enjoyed themselves and I know the players can hear it and they knew that they had a full house behind them.”
Coming into the game both teams were undefeated in conference play and the winner controlled their own destiny for the league championship and automatic berth in a BCS game.
UCF and Houston played each other four times while in the Conference USA with UCF going 3-1 in those games (2-0 in Orlando). This was the first time the Cougars visited Orlando since 2009 when UCF defeated a then-No. 13 Houston 37-32. Four of the five meetings between the teams have been decided by seven points or less, including Saturday night’s contest.
Houston had the opportunity to win the game late in the fourth. After driving to the 10-yard-line, Houston had a new set of downs with less than a minute left in the game. However, the UCF defense held strong on the final four plays of the game, keeping the Cougars out of the end zone and securing the victory.
“I’ve been around football a long time and it doesn’t get any closer than that,” O’Leary said. “We made the play on defense. The coverage was good. I thought the kids hung in there and did what they had to do at the end to win the game.”
With head-to-head wins against both Louisville and Houston, UCF now seems unlikely to appear in the hometown Russell Athletic Bowl barring some losses in their remaining four games. The Cardinals and Cougars meet next week in a game that will have major implications in the Russell Athletic Bowl’s selection order at the end of the season.