The Aggies and the Sun Devils will play in Houston on the first Saturday in September in what is one of the more appealing non-conference showdowns of the weekend. Both teams are exciting to watch, and both feature head coaches entering their fourth seasons who have settled into their spots naturally as good fits.
They are also familiar foes.
The two met three years in a row in Conference USA from 2008-2010, with Kevin Sumlin's Houston team holding the edge 2-1. But the first meeting was perhaps the most memorable.
Todd Graham's Tulsa squad started out the 2008 season by wheeling off eight straight wins and climbed as high as #19 in the polls. They were still undefeated in conference play and 8-1 overall when they rolled into Houston to face the 5-4 Cougars under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin and sophomore QB Case Keenum.
Then this happened:
It was ugly if you were a Tulsa fan, and glorious if you weren't. It was a classic Kevin Sumlin offensive approach of early attacks, with a generous amount of help from the defense and special teams thrown in. Tulsa would score a touchdown late in the second quarter to cut the score to 35-17. Houston returned the ensuing kickoff with only nine seconds left in the half.
It was just one of those games for Tulsa. Keenum had six touchdowns. Houston scored on defense. The Golden Hurricane got punched in the teeth and would have had to play a perfect game to come back, and they didn't come close.
Houston would go on to win two of their next three games, including a bowl win against Air Force, and they'd parlay that momentum into a ten-win campaign in 2009, Sumlin's second year. Of course, a lot of that had to do with the staff that Sumlin assembled in his first year at Houston:
Not bad for C-USA. (Zac is Jake's brother; we knew you'd ask. He's now the DB coach at Texas Tech.)
Beating Arizona State won't be this easy, obviously. Todd Graham has faced Sumlin a few times now, and he's beaten him. He's also got a lot more in his arsenal at Arizona State than he did at Tulsa. But so does Kevin Sumlin.
Either way, it's going to be a great show, and since we've still got a few weeks to play with, why not dig up some old games and crow over past results for a while?
Here's a #classy clip from a Houston fan from late in that game to hold you over: