Emeke Egbule returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown with 1:21 remaining to give No. 13 Houston a 38-31 win over Tulsa on Saturday night.
The game was tied at 31-31 when Garrett Davis knocked the ball out of the hands of quarterback Dane Evans. Egbule scooped it up and dashed into the end zone for the score.
Tulsa (4-2, 1-1 American) had a chance to tie it, but Jesse Brubaker was stopped just short of the goal line after a reception on the last play of the game to seal Houston's victory. The play was reviewed and upheld.
It was a close call for the Cougars (6-1, 3-1) a week after Navy beat them 46-40 for their first loss of the season after a 5-0 start.
"We got the taste out of our mouth," Houston coach Tom Herman said.
Tulsa never led, but had twice rallied from 14-point deficits to tie the game. The second time came when James Flanders scored on a 3-yard run with 3:31 left.
The Golden Hurricane forced a punt after that, but the fumble by Evans came two plays later.
Houston's Dillon Birden ran for 82 yards and three touchdowns playing in place of injured starter Duke Catalon.
TULSA: The Golden Hurricane ran out of late-game magic after overcoming a 31-point deficit, which was the largest in school history, to beat Fresno State 48-41 in double overtime two weeks ago before getting a 43-40 win over SMU in overtime last week.
HOUSTON: The Cougars need to start playing more like the team that beat Oklahoma instead of the mistake-prone team that lost to Navy last week and struggled this week to reach the goal of getting to the conference title game.
TULSA: The Golden Hurricane host Tulane next Saturday.
HOUSTON: The Cougars visit SMU next Saturday.