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Cougars Return to National Rankings

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(credit: Anna-Megan Raley/CBS Houston)

(credit: Anna-Megan Raley/CBS Houston)

For the first time since the 1989-91 seasons, the University of Houston Football program has been ranked inside the Top 25 for three consecutive years.  Head Coach Kevin Sumlin’s crew joined the list of nationally-ranked programs on Sunday, debuting at #22 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll and #25 in the Associated Press rankings announced Sunday morning. 

Houston (6-0, 2-0 C-USA), one of just 13 unbeaten teams in America, is off to the fastest start in school history, equaling 6-0 starts by teams in 1973 (started 6-0), 1979 (started 8-0) and 1990 (started 8-0). The Cougars are also one of just seven teams to boast bowl eligibility by the middle of October. 

“For our players and our coaching staff the rankings won’t change our mindset, but for our university, our fans and our alumni, there’s no question it’s important,” Head Coach Kevin Sumlin said. “To me, being ranked means we have a lot of opportunity out there in front of us and that’s what you want for your program as a head coach.” 

The Cougars have now been ranked in three of Sumlin’s four seasons at the helm of the program, reaching #23 last season and moving as high as #12 nationally during the 10-win season of 2009. 

Case Keenum has been spectacular all season for Houston, throwing for 2,309 yards and 17 scores compared to just two interceptions. The Abilene, Texas, native has 16,781 career total yards, just 130 yards behind former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang (16,910).  He also has 15,895 career passing yards, second all-time in NCAA history, 1,178 yards behind Chang for that NCAA mark as well. 

Not to be lost during Saturday’s 56-3 win over East Carolina was the play of the Cougar Defense. Houston’s defenders held East Carolina to just 21 yards rushing and forced four interceptions, while recording nine sacks. Headlining the defense was junior lπinebacker Philip Steward, who had two interceptions, four tackles and one tackle for loss.

Houston enters its bye week, but will return to action at Robertson Stadium on Oct. 22 vs. Marshall. That game time is set for 3:30 p.m. and tickets to see the undefeated Cougars can be purchased by calling 713-GO-COOGS or ordering online at uhcougars.com.

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