Kenneth Farrow and his Houston teammates know the magnitude of Saturday’s home game against Vanderbilt.
The Cougars (7-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) defeated Louisville 34-31 in Week 2 and have another chance to make a statement against Power 5 opponent Vandy (3-4, 1-3), which is coming off a 10-3 win against Missouri.
“We want to go out and show that Louisville wasn’t a fluke, that we are for real,” said Farrow, a former Hurst L.D. Bell player. “Vanderbilt has a physical defense, up there with Louisville as one of the toughest we’ve played all year. They are in the top 20 in several defensive categories, and they play in the SEC, so they are the real deal.”
Farrow, a fifth-year senior running back, has been a Houston team captain since his sophomore season.
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“When I was a freshman, I saw guys like Case Keenum coming in and working hard every day,” Farrow said. “Those guys weren’t five-star guys coming out. I knew I was going to have to work hard for everything, and seeing those guys doing it helped that mentality. It’s about consistency, and I think each year I’ve been a better leader. I think coach [Tom] Herman getting here this year has helped me reach another level.”
Houston has rebuilt since Farrow watched the team finish 13-1 as he redshirted in 2011. As a freshman in 2012, Farrow helped the Cougars rebound from the loss of coach Kevin Sumlin and multiple players to finish 5-7. Then, Houston put together consecutive 8-5 seasons in 2013-14. Now the Cougars have the chance for another special season to rival 2011.
“It’s been fun to be a part of this, because everyone has been putting in the work,” Farrow said. “It’s the little things. Guys have grown up, and everyone is accountable to one another. It’s things like not leaving the locker room dirty when you leave. Stuff as small as that. You can’t win a football game if you don’t take care of the details.”
Farrow had 2,017 career rushing yards through his first three seasons, his best coming last year when he topped 1,000 and scored 14 touchdowns.
This season, Farrow is the team’s second-leading rusher with 669 yards and eight touchdowns (quarterback Greg Ward Jr. has 677 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground). Last week, he ran for 167 yards and three touchdowns in a 59-10 win at UCF.
“We had three offensive linemen out for the season, so we have three freshmen who have played their tails off and have done a great job the past several weeks,” Farrow said. “I like to think I get stronger during the back half of the season. We’re getting it rolling here.”
After playing Vanderbilt, Houston will take on Cincinnati on Nov. 7 a week before a huge matchup at home against No. 16 Memphis, which recently upset No. 19 Ole Miss. American East leader No. 21 Temple hosts No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday, another big opportunity for an American Athletic Conference team.
“Seeing Memphis beat Ole Miss was exciting,” Farrow said. “We just want to keep this going for our conference.”