After taking down East Carolina in last week’s 52-27 win at home, the Houston Cougars have now approached their long-awaited bye this week.

For the players and coaches, this week’s break almost couldn’t come soon enough for the Cougars, who hope to use this week to recharge their batteries.

“I think it’s big,” said wide receiver Steven Dunbar after Saturday’s game. “We’ve been playing a lot of games, so this week will be good on our bodies to get some rest. Just the mental break that allows us to look at ourselves and see what we need to get better at is good, too. The best thing though about this week is to allow ourselves to rest up and let injuries heal.”

Dunbar led the Cougars in reception yards with 171 from six catches and had one touchdown.

Last Saturday’s conference win moved the Cougars to 6-3 on the year and 4-2 in the American Athletic Conference and helped Houston to its fifth straight bowl game.

“I’ve been going to a bowl game ever since I’ve been here, so I couldn’t imagine how to go about it if we didn’t make it to a bowl this year,” said wide receiver Linell Bonner.

Against ECU, Bonner finished with seven receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s good to see success, as far as the team goes,” Bonner said. “We had some ups and downs and it was good to see the team come together and build on it as the rest of the season goes on.”

Making his first career start at quarterback for Houston, D’Eriq King went for a career-best 330 yards, throwing 15-for-21 and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He also finished with 14 yards rushing on three carries and one score.

“I would say it’s a big deal for me but it’s not about me it’s about the team and I’m just trying to help the rest of the team,” King said.

In what has already been an up and down season for the Cougars, head coach Major Applewhite says his team still has room to improve.

“I see some discipline and accountability of the game,” Applewhite said. “At the same time, there are some things that aren’t getting better and we have to address those in a different way. We have to find different ways to get these issues fixed.”

Saturday’s win came a week after the Cougars’ 28-24 upset over previously unbeaten South Florida. The Cougars will next face the Tulane Green Wave (3-6, 1-4) for a 3 p.m. game on Nov. 18 in New Orleans. After that, the Cougars will return home against Navy (5-3, 3-3) on Nov. 24.

“We’re getting ready to play two teams that run the triple option, but I’m sure they can pass well, and we have to be ready or else we could fall apart in the second or third quarter,” Applewhite said.

Michael Bauer: 409-683-5247; michael.bauer@galvnews.com

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