Arizona routed by Houston, drops to 0-2

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Corbin Ayers/Daily Cougar | The Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats traveled to Houston to face off with the Houston Cougars on Sept. 8. The Wildcats were defeated 45-18.  

After a disappointing opening-night loss to BYU, the Arizona football program looked to get back to winning ways and shake off the sluggish start against Houston. 

That did not happen on Saturday morning, as Kevin Sumlin's return to Houston was spoiled as the Wildcats got embarrassed in all facets of the game in front of a national audience, losing 45-18. 

The Wildcats open the season 0-2 for the first time since 1981.

       RELATED:  All eyes on Tate vs Oliver

Houston started fast and did not release its foot off the gas pedal as they opened up the game with three quick scores, separating themselves from the severely inferior Arizona team by going up 21-0 in just a little over ten minutes of play.

Houston's star defensive tackle Ed Oliver was putting pressure on Khalil Tate and the Arizona offensive line all morning on the defensive side of the ball. Cougars quarterback D'Eriq King carved up the Wildcat secondary for fun, completing 17 of 34 passes with four touchdowns against a UA secondary that had absolutely no answer for whatever the Cougars threw at them. 

Tate looked to use this nationally televised game to get back into the Heisman conversation after a poor week-one performance, but after seeming to roll his ankle during the first quarter, the dual-threat QB turned one-dimensional, finishing the game with a career high 45 passes (10 higher than his previous high) for 341 yards.

Tate was again limited strictly to the pocket, but, unlike this week, it was not by design, as Tate was not able to make the clean cuts and sudden movements that make him the elusive headache for defenses. The injury forced offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and Sumlin to cut out a majority of their playbook and game plan within the first couple series in the game, adding to the heap of things that just didn't go Arizona's way.

The Wildcats walked back to the locker room at the break down 31-0, and it could have been worse. Houston wide receivers dropped multiple balls in the first half as they were running wide open down the sideline with nothing but green turf in front of them. 

The third quarter wasn't much better for Arizona, as the Cougars came out and picked up where they left off, scoring a touchdown within the first few minutes of the half with a King touchdown pass. Houston tightened the choke hold the Cougars already had on Arizona with a third quarter interception thrown by  Tate, his second of the game and the final nail in the halfway-buried casket.

      RELATED: Sumlin worried about winning, not Houston homecoming

Even though the Wildcats were able to tack on 18 points in the second half and make the score look a little less embarrassing, the damage had been done. 

Even with a semi-exciting fourth quarter where the Wildcats got into their first offensive rhythm of the year, with a couple successful drives that ended in scores, a Houston goal line stand at the 1-yard line and a UA decision to punt with five minutes remaining stopped the comeback attempt.

Arizona is in unprecedented territory, and the hole the new coaching staff has dug themselves in is one that looks a mile deep. Luckily, Arizona faces Southern Utah at home next week in what should be a bounce-back game that rebuilds the confidence of both the coaches and the staff. But, until next Saturday, Arizona is 0-2 and reeling.


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