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    Records and Wins for Houston Quarterback



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    Records and Wins for Houston Quarterback

    Post  lujinyu on Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:14 pm

    The off-campus garage apartment that Houston quarterback Case Keenum and his wife, Kimberly, share is so modest that it does not have a full number in its mailing address. The Keenums lovingly refer to their home as the Half, a cozy starter spot.
    “We’re always going to remember living at the Half,” Keenum said with a laugh in a phone interview Sunday.

    As a 23-year-old sixth-year senior, Keenum has been around long enough to realize that his true freshman teammates were in seventh grade when he graduated from high school. But if Keenum produces a second half of his season to match his first, college football historians will use the Half to refer to what would amount to a record-setting run.

    After a blistering performance in a 63-28 victory over Marshall on Saturday, Keenum is poised to take over the passing portion of the N.C.A.A. record book.

    He threw for 376 yards and 6 touchdowns against Marshall, breaking the former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang’s record for total offense. Keenum has 17,173 yards, eclipsing Chang’s 16,910 from 2000 to 2004.

    There are two more records within reach. He needs four touchdown passes to tie the former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell (134). And he needs 801 passing yards to tie Chang’s career mark (17,072).

    But more than individual achievements, Keenum has No. 18 Houston looking to become the first Conference USA team to go undefeated in the league since Bobby Petrino’s Louisville team in 2004.

    The Cougars are 7-0 over all, and if they can finish the season undefeated they would be the first Conference USA to do so since the 1998 Tulane team led by quarterback Shaun King. (That team had an innovative young offensive coordinator named Rich Rodriguez.)

    “The one thing I love about Case is that he shows up when they play big opponents,” King said. “They beat Oklahoma State a few years ago, and I like the fact that he shows up when they play elite teams. Timmy Chang holds a lot of those records, but he was in the right system. Case has really shown up when they’ve played quality opponents.”

    Wisconsin and Oklahoma fell from the ranks of the undefeated Saturday night, offering a reminder of how difficult it is to go undefeated in college football.

    There are eight undefeated teams left in major college football. And while there are certainly more grueling schedules than the one faced by Houston, Conference USA has often been a vexing league in which to go undefeated. Houston has a chance to finish in the top 10 for the first time since David Klingler’s run-and-shoot team finished No. 10 in 1990.

    Houston Coach Kevin Sumlin credited the team’s rallying around Keenum in his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury as the key to the hot start. He said the Cougars appreciated the records as much as Keenum.

    “For us to win, because of our style, it takes protection and guys catching the ball,” Sumlin said by telephone Sunday. “It’s not like you’re chasing a batting title. Football is completely different; people miss that.”

    The Cougars run a hurry-up, no-huddle offense in which Keenum jokes that it is his job is to get the ball out of the hands of the slow guy (him) and into the hands of the faster guys. Keenum said their goal was to get as many snaps off as possible. (Sumlin joked that Houston’s only huddles come on the sideline when the defense is on the field.) Keenum said that screens and quick slants doubled as Houston’s running plays, allowing for an efficient and high-energy offense.

    It is a system that is working, as Houston leads the nation in passing offense (441.71 yards), scoring offense (49.29 points) and total offense (606.14 yards). Keenum ranks in the top three in passing yards per game, passing efficiency and total offense.

    Keenum has the authority to change the play on about half of the Cougars’ snaps. Keenum said he was sharper mentally now after missing a majority of last season with a torn A.C.L. and getting an N.C.A.A. waiver for a sixth year.
    “He’s playing at a very high level right now,” Sumlin said. “He’s playing at the level he was before the injury, but mentally he’s way ahead of where he was.”
    Keenum said that throughout his rehabilitation he fought doubts, especially after the grueling days of work that resulted in no progress. Sumlin said that the expectations for Keenum to return immediately to playing at the same elite level weighed on Keenum. But Keenum said he started this season at 100 percent and was feeling even better.

    “I’m a tougher player because of it and I’m mentally tougher,” he said. “I like to think I’m a better football player because of all that as well.”

    The only bad news for Houston is that it is going to be virtually impossible to break into the Bowl Championship Series. Only one team from outside the six power conferences gets an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the B.C.S. standings. The independent B.C.S. analyst Jerry Palm said there was a minuscule chance that Houston, No. 17 in the B.C.S., could jump Boise State, which is No. 4.

    But Houston can still post one of the best seasons in Conference USA history, and Keenum’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy will increase each week that Houston wins.

    “I don’t even really know what the standards are for that deal,” Keenum said of the Heisman.

    He is more worried about Kimberly’s cooking standards at the Half. He said she was such a perfectionist that she would throw away a meal that was not quite cooked right instead of letting him eat it.

    “I was eating macaroni and cheese and tuna for years,” he said. “I don’t mind eating a little burnt pot roast.”

    Halfway through his final season, Keenum hopes he can keep compiling the records and memories for Houston.

    After Top 2, Oklahoma St. Has the Inside Track

    The losses by national title contenders Wisconsin and Oklahoma threw the Bowl Championship Series race into a tizzy. College football, after a few weeks heavy on chalk and light on thrillers, re-emerged as the unpredictable and parity-laden beast that had driven the sport’s popularity and television ratings the past few years.

    With Louisiana State and Alabama locked into the top two spots until the two teams meet Nov. 5, the biggest question is which team can jockey into position for a possible spot against the Tigers or the Crimson Tide in the national title game.

    Right now, Oklahoma State appears to be that team. The Cowboys are No. 3 in the latest B.C.S. rankings, significantly ahead of No. 4 Boise State, No. 5 Clemson and No. 6 Stanford. Jerry Palm said he did not think Oklahoma State’s edge would disappear in the computers because it has a strong schedule.

    “Oklahoma State is in the best shape,” Palm wrote in an e-mail. “They have a slight edge over Stanford in the polls (pretty even really), but figure to be the best computer team with the possible exception of an undefeated SEC champ.

    “Unless the voters start coming harder for Stanford, the Cardinal won’t catch O.S.U.”

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