EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut – After taking care of business in New England, Houston coach Dana Holgorsen decided to channel Bill Belichick, happy that his team could finally focus on the American Athletic Conference championship game. next weekend.
“Now we are going to Cincinnati,” he said.
Clayton Tune threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday as the No.19 Houston ended its regular season with a 45-17 victory over UConn in cold and windy conditions.
Nathaniel Dell caught two touchdowns and Jake Herslow and Jeremy Singleton each exceeded 100 receiving yards with one touchdown each for Houston (11-1, 8-0 AAC), who plays at No.4 Cincinnati for the title of the conference next Saturday.
“We knew we were going to be in this game, but yet we had to go about business and play Memphis, and then we had to go about business and play UConn,” said Holgorsen. “It’s tricky. These are trick games and we didn’t fall for it.”
Freshman Alton McCaskill hit a 31-yard touchdown, his 16th of the year for the Cougars, but left the game in the second quarter holding his right shoulder. He finished with 54 yards on the ground.
The Cougars led 21-10 at halftime and scored on their first four possessions of the second half to put the game out of reach.
Tune completed 20 of his 31 passes in three shifts.
“It’s going to be cold up there (in Cincinnati) and that’s something we’re not used to,” Tune said. “So it’s good to go out here and play in the cold and get used to it. I think we’ll be ready for that next week.”
UConn’s Steven Krajewski hit a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kevens Clercius before leaving the game in the second quarter with an injury. He was replaced by Micah Leon, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 62 yards for the Huskies (1-11).
Leon left with a leg injury with 2 minutes left. Jacob Drenn, a freshman, has become UConn’s fifth quarterback to see the action this season.
UConn has lost 14 straight games against FBS opponents and 36 of its last 37 such games.
Take it away
UConn: The Huskies introduced new coach Jim Mora at a pre-game press conference. The former NFL and UCLA coach returns to the schedule on Monday.
“I like going up a hill,” Mora said. “I like hard things. Hard things motivate me. So it’s just another chance to climb a hill.”
Houston: The Cougars have won their six away games this season, the fifth time in program history the team is undefeated on the road, joining the 2011, 1988, 1979 and 1952 teams.
Houston tallied seven sacks, bringing his season total to 43.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Logan Hall, who was credited with a half-sack and also blocked a goal in the first half. “Our 2’s and 3’s went there and on their first or second play they knocked it over, so I’m really proud of the way we played.”
Houston posted 472 yards of attack, including 323 in the air, while keeping the Huskies to 238 yards.
McCaskill and Dell each left the game with injuries. Tune also got punched, slapping her hand on an opponent’s face mask. But Holgorsen said he didn’t anticipate any of them would miss next week’s title game.
“We will be as healthy as we have been all year,” he said.
Houston wasn’t overly impressive, but a four touchdown win cemented it as a Top 20 schedule heading into a game with much higher stakes.
Houston: The Cougars face the undefeated Bearcats next Saturday.
UConn: The Huskies season is over.
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