A Conference USA Showdown

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: November 28, 2008

Bayou Bucket HOUSTON — The Houston Cougars and Rice Owls are putting the heat on Tulsa in the West Division of Conference USA as all three teams won over the weekend to put them in a three-way tie at 6-1.

Houston rallied during a wild fourth quarter to hold off the UTEP Miners 42-37 and Rice cruised past Marshall 35-10 to set up a hometown showdown Saturday afternoon at Rice Stadium.

The annual Bayou Bucket and the lead in the C-USA West Division will be on the line as two of the most explosive offenses take the field in what should be a truly high scoring affair.

Houston, who trailed UTEP by 19 points late in the third quarter, saw quarterback Case Keenum score on a 1-yard keeper to give the Cougars not only their biggest comeback of the season, but the greatest in school history.

The win kept the Cougars (7-4, 6-1 in Conference USA) in the driver’s seat for the C-USA West Division title. They will need a win to host the C-USA Championship game next month.

Rice (8-3, 6-1 in Conference USA), reached the eight win plateau for the first time since 2001 and kept alive their slim hopes for hosting the conference title game on December 6th.

The Owls need a victory over Houston and they need Marshall to beat Tulsa in Huntington, West Virginia, to challenge for its first league title since 1957, when Rice finished 5-1 in the Southwest Conference.

Either way it goes, the Conference USA Championship will be coming back to Houston. The explosive shootout kicks off at 2:30 p.m.