HOUSTON - D'Eriq King proved Saturday afternoon that he has plenty of offensive outlets.
The junior quarterback there for 246 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another 31 yards and a pair of scores to lead the Cougars past Arizona 45-18 and spoil former Houston coach Kevin Sumlin's return to the Lone Star State.
"This offense is great. It tries to get everyone involved," King said. "You're trying to get everybody touches. Finding different ways to get our playmakers the ball is a big thing to (Offensive coordinator Kendal) Briles. That's why I think this offense is pretty good."
King set a new career high with the four touchdowns through the air and all four scores went to different receivers. Houston pitched a first-half shutout, scoring 31 points and holding the Wildcats scoreless until midway through the third quarter.
"I'm just proud of him," Houston head coach Major Applewhite said. "Forget titles, that guy is so competitive. He's a great leader. He's tough because he's been through adversity. For him to have that kind of game, is not a surprise to us in the locker room. I'm pleased he's playing in a high level right now."
Houston's Ed Oliver played all along the defensive line and finished the game with just five tackles, but was constantly getting pressure and led the Cougars with four quarterback hurries and broke up one pass.
Arizona quarterback Kahlil Tate threw for 341 yards with two interceptions and rushed for eight yards and one touchdown. The junior, who averaged nearly 130 yards rushing a game last season, was held to negative yardage in the first half.
"Credit to our offense for putting points on the board, but the game plan was to contain him," Houston defensive back Garrett Davis said. "He's a Heisman candidate, elusive quarterback, and an elusive guy. Containing him was going to be one of our biggest keys to victory."
Houston scored on its first three drives of the game, beginning with a 24-yard touchdown pass from King to Marquez Stevenson, who kept his balance as two Arizona defenders ran into each other on the opening 81-yard drive.
A Davis interception gave the Cougars a short field, and they took advantage when King punched it in for a 1-yard score. He followed that up with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Romello Brooker.
King threw his third touchdown pass of the game with under four minutes left in the half, picking out Bryson Smith for a 13-yard score.
Davis intercepted his second pass of the game on the first Arizona drive of the game, and Houston took advantage, going 64 yards in six plays and scoring on an 18-yard touchdown reception by Keith Corbin.
The Wildcats got on the board with 18 unanswered points in the second half, capped off with a safety midway through the fourth quarter.
But King got the last word as he finished off his career day with a 4-yard rushing touchdown with less than two minutes left.
"We had a good week of practice, but made similar mistakes," Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We got behind and had to change the game plan. We just have to start faster. We had eight penalties today and two turnovers, something we didn't do last week. A combination of all those things are what created the slow start, and we have to improve at that."
Houston heads up to Lubbock to face off with Texas Tech next Saturday before returning home to take on Texas Southern on Sept. 22. The Cougars open conference play at home on Sept. 4 against Tulsa.
"What we've got to do is, we've got to be a deep team," Applewhite said. "The great teams that I've been around have been able to play two or three deep. We've got to be able to create trust and production to fill those gaps. We've got to work at that, and we've got to work out our second and third teams more."