Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver did not play in the second half of the Cougars' 52-31 loss to Memphis, which will send the Tigers to the AAC Championship Game against UCF. Not coincidentally, Memphis had success running the ball all day against the Houston defense. Two Memphis running backs, including star Darrell Henderson, eclipsed 100 yards on the ground as the Tigers tallied 401 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Oliver, who has been suffering from a lingering bruised right knee, was visibly emotional on the sideline while he sat out with his injury.
Weird situation unfolding in Memphis ... Houston DT/prospective Top 10 pick Ed Oliver came back today. Played first half. Hasn’t played at all in the second half — broadcast team says they weren’t given a reason. Cameras just caught him getting emotional on the sideline. pic.twitter.com/FqaZXy6qbG— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 23, 2018
Houston coach Major Applewhite said after the game that Oliver's knee started bothering him again. Oliver first suffered the bruised right knee in late October against Navy and has missed basically all of the last four games recovering. Though he tried to give the knee a go vs. SMU earlier this month, Applewhite said Oliver suffered a setback in that game. On Friday, Oliver re-aggravated that knee.
On postgame radio, Major Applewhite says Ed Oliver’s knee began to bother him.— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 23, 2018
Major Applewhite says DT Ed Oliver suffered a setback trying to come back from knee injury against SMU and set timetable back 2-3 weeks.— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 23, 2018
Oliver announced before the season began that he would be declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft. Whether he plays in Houston's upcoming bowl game remains to be seen, though Oliver says he plans to play. However, he clearly wanted to be out on the field vs. Memphis. Oliver and Applewhite also had a very public blow-up right before halftime against Tulane in Week 12 over whether Oliver could wear a team-issued coat on the sideline if he wasn't playing. Applewhite and Oliver later issued statements saying they put the situation behind them.