Houston's bad week just got worse. A lot worse.
On Saturday, the Cougars dropped a stunner to American Athletic Conference foe SMU 38-16. Houston never led and fell behind 21-0 early in the game. Third down conversions (4-of-16) were an issue, as were turnovers (2). But more than anything, Houston couldn't stop SMU's offense.
A missed 19-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter summed up Houston's night in a single play: the opportunity was there, but they couldn't capitalize.
Losing to SMU is bad by itself. The Mustangs, who notched their first victory over a top-25 team since 1986, are still in rebuilding mode under coach Chad Morris. And while the Ponies are explosive offensively, they're a sub-.500 team. If -- if -- there was any glimmer of a playoff hope remaining for Houston, it's gone now.
Not only that, the loss puts the Cougars at 3-2 in conference play. Coupled with Navy's 42-28 win over Memphis, Houston is now a game-and-a-half behind the Midshipmen in the AAC West. Houston lost to Navy 46-40 earlier this month. Houston now needs Navy to lose three of its final four conference games ... plus win all of its games to reach the American Athletic Conference Championship Game.
For a program that had such high expectations coming into the season as a potential playoff crasher, life sure has come at the Cougars fast.
The loss also caps off a terrible week for Houston. On Monday, the Big 12 announced it would not expand after months of publicly flirting with the idea and allowing more than a dozen schools, including Houston, to publicly state their case. For the immediate future, at least, Houston will not be asked to join a Power Five conference even though it has a good tradition and a rapid ascent under coach Tom Herman.
Speaking of Herman, the last remaining thing Houston can do is hold on to their beloved coach. The program is doing everything it can to keep Herman, but with Charlie Strong's fate potentially sealed at Texas and LSU open, Herman will remain a coveted item in the coaching carousel.
Losing Herman would be a bad encore to Houston's play, which is beginning to turn into a tragedy in three acts.