With a shot at hosting the Conference USA Championship game on the line, Tulsa had its opportunities, but couldn't cash in on them in a 48-16 loss to eighth-ranked Houston Friday at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
The Golden Hurricane (8-4) was just 2-of-4 on red zone opportunities.
Tulsa scored on its opening possession, going 76 yards in ten plays, getting an 11-yard touchdown pass from G.J. Kinne to Willie Carter for an early 7-0 advantage.
Houston would score to cut the lead to 7-6 and Tulsa would add a career-best 52-yard field goal from Kevin Fitzpatrick to lead 10-6, but that's when things began to go downhill.
Tulsa drove to the 18 yard line early in the second quarter and were turned away after failing to convert on fourth and one.
Houston took the lead late in the second quarter with Case Keenum tossing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Charles Sims.
TU would respond with another long drive, but on a pass completion from Kinne to Bryan Burnham, Randall Hollimon would force a fumble and D.J. Hayden would recover with less than a minute until halftime.
The Cougars converted a fourth-and-10 into a 33-yard touchdown pass from Keenum to Patrick Edwards early in the third quarter to lead 20-10.
Tulsa would again crack the red zone, but settle for a 37-yard field goal by Fitzpatrick. And, after a fumble recovery set up the Golden Hurricane at the Houston 35, TU was again stopped and Fitzgerald's 51-yard field goal pulled them within 20-16 with just over seven minutes to play in the third.
Houston's offense finally began clicking late in the third quarter with Keenum and Edwards hooking up a third time for a 27-16 advantage. Keenum would add two more TD tosses in the fourth quarter as the Cougars pulled away.
Tulsa was led by Kinne, who passed for 174 yards and a touchdown, but suffered a pair of late fourth quarter interceptions. He also added 44 yards rushing. Trey Watts had 62 yards on the ground.
Keenum finished with 455 yards and five touchdowns passing. Edwards caught eight passes for 181 yards and four touchdowns and teammate Justin Johnson also hauled in seven for 106 yards and a score.
The loss ends Tulsa's regular season. They will likely end up in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against Brigham Young.
Houston could be on its way to a BCS Bowl. They will host either Southern Miss or Marshall in the CUSA Championship next week.
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