DALLAS (FWAA) – During a season-opening holiday weekend with what many considered a best-ever opening slate of games, the Houston Cougars scored perhaps the biggest statement win with a 33-23 defeat of No. 3 Oklahoma. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. rallied his team three times in the first half, and the defending American Athletic Conference champions took over in the second half to earn the Football Writers Association of America National Team of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Sept. 3.
The announcement was made on “Playbook,” hosted by Chris Carlin and Gino Torretta on SiriusXM Radio’s “College Sports Nation.” Each Monday during the season, the FWAA National Team of the Week will be unveiled during the program, which airs from 1-4 p.m. ET.
Ward threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars (1-0). But the game’s key play came midway through the third quarter on Brandon Wilson’s 100-yard field goal return for a touchdown. Austin Seibert’s 54-yard field goal attempt fell just short, Wilson caught the ball with his heels just inside the end line before sprinting to the right side of the field and virtually untouched to the end zone.
Instead of giving up a go-ahead field goal, Houston turned the play into a 26-17 advantage. The UH defense did the rest, sacking Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield five times and forcing a fumble as the Cougars won their fifth straight game against a ranked opponent.
“We were prepared to win. We expected to win. We train to win,” Houston coach Tom Herman said. “It wasn’t about making a statement, it was about going 1-0 the first week of the season.”
This is the fourth time for Houston to earn National Team of the Week honors and the first time since 2011.
Other National Team of the Week nominees for the weekend of Sept. 3 were:
• South Alabama (1-0): Quarterback Dallas Davis found Gerald Everett in the back of the end zone for a touchdown with 57 seconds left, and USA survived a last-second field goal miss to upset Mississippi State on the road, 21-20.
• Texas (1-0): The Longhorns topped No. 10 Notre Dame, 50-47, on Tyrone Swoopes’ six-yard touchdown run on Texas’ second overtime possession in front of a record-setting home crowd of 102,315. True freshman quarterback Shane Buechele started the game and alternated with Swoopes down the stretch. Both helped Texas a win over a top-10 opponent at home since 2008.
• Wisconsin (1-0): The Badgers’ defense held LSU scoreless into the third quarter, and after the Tigers did score twice, Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone hit a 47-yard field goal with 3:47 left to give the Badgers a 16-14 win at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Safety D’Cota Dixon clinched the game with a final-minute interception.
The Football Writers Association of America has named a national team of the week since the 2002 season. Members of the 12-person FWAA All-America Committee – plus one fan vote from Twitter – decide the weekly honor.