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at Houston 38 ... UCLA 34
Posted Sep 3, 2011

Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction & Breakdown - UCLA at Houston

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - UCLA at Houston

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Sept. 3 at Houston 38 … UCLA 34
CFN Analysis: Case Keenum looked as good as new showing now ill-effects from his knee injury completing 30-of-40 passes for 310 yards and two scores, spreading the ball around to nine different receivers with Tyron Carrier catching ten passes for 138 yards and a score, but the attack fizzled in the second half trying to hold the lead. Even with the offense working as well as hoped for against a good Bruin defense in the first half, there were some key mistakes in the end that allowed the game to get close. The Cougars needed to be able to run the clock out, but a few missed throws extended the game. That’s Houston football, though, and it allowed Keenum to close it out. Now comes a date at North Texas before a possible shootout against Louisiana Tech.

The Bruins showed heart coming back after getting bombed on in a 31-14 first half, and the defense put the clamps down, and it was even more impressive that it came when QB Kevin Prince was knocked out with a concussion. Richard Brehaut did a terrific job completing 17-of-276 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns, along with 87 rushing yards and a score, and Johnathan Franklin had a great game with 128 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but the team couldn’t stop screwing up in key moments. The ten penalties were a disaster, the blocked extra point hurt, and the missed field goal was a disaster. The seat will be even hotter now for Rick Neuheisel, but there were some positives. Yes, if the mistakes can stop, beating Texas in two weeks will be on the table.

(AP) HOUSTON -- Case Keenum threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns in his return from reconstructive knee surgery, Tyron Carrier caught 10 passes for 138 yards and Houston beat UCLA 38-34 on Saturday.

Keenum completed 30 of 40 passes without an interception in his first game since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament early in a loss to UCLA last September in the Rose Bowl. The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility in January, allowing Keenum to resume his pursuit of several NCAA records.

He looked like his old self, and so did the Cougars' powerful offense, gaining 469 total yards.

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince left in the second quarter with a concussion and Richard Brehaut replaced him. Brehaut went 17 for 26 for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bruins finished with 554 yards, but their defense couldn't stop Keenum and the Cougars.

Keenum was sharp from the start, completing 5 of 7 passes on Houston's opening drive. He also scrambled out of trouble twice, picking up a first down on a 10-yard scamper to the UCLA 7. Michael Hayes, one of three running backs who carried on the Cougars' first series, scored on a 1-yard run with 9:06 left in the first quarter.

The Bruins went three-and-out, and Keenum went back to work, completing four straight passes for double-digit gains. The drive stalled at the UCLA 18, and the Cougars settled for Matt Hogan's 35-yard field goal.

UCLA gained only 29 yards in the first quarter, but Prince started the second with a 29-yard pass to Joseph Fauria to the Houston 18. Johnathan Franklin weaved for a touchdown on the next snap to cut the deficit to 10-7. Franklin rushed for 128 yards on 16 carries in the game.

Bruins' defensive tackle Cassius Marsh sacked Keenum on Houston's next play, leading to the Cougars' first punt. The crowd fell silent for a moment, but Keenum sprang back up.

Prince was then knocked out of the game with a concussion when Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden upended him on a scramble along the sideline. Brehaut, who started seven games in 2010, came in as trainers attended to Prince.

Houston linebacker Phillip Steward recovered a fumble near midfield, and the Cougars' offense breezed down the field again, with Bryce Beall scoring on a 12-yard run.

The Cougars led 24-14 when they got the ball back on their own 36 with 35 seconds left in the half. That was plenty of time for Keenum, who threw a 26-yard pass to Carrier, got help from a UCLA pass-interference penalty, then found Carrier again for a 23-yard touchdown with eight seconds to spare before the break.

Keenum was 19 for 24 for 188 yards in the first half.

Brehaut's first pass of the second half was a 54-yarder down the middle to Nelson Rosario. Derrick Coleman's 1-yard touchdown run cut it to 31-21 with 8:28 left in the third quarter.

The Cougars were threatening again, but Beall fumbled inside the 10. A 29-yard run by Franklin gave UCLA some breathing room, and Brehaut scored in the final minute of the third quarter to pull UCLA within three.

Houston nearly gave away another costly turnover early in the fourth quarter, when Carrier took a short pass and fumbled at the 1. But Houston center Chris Thompson fell on the bouncing ball in the end zone, and after an officials' review, the play was ruled another Cougars' touchdown.

The Bruins chewed up seven minutes on their ensuing drive, and Kip Smith missed a 32-yard field goal try with 2:29 left.

Brehaut threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Barr with 1:19 remaining, but Houston's Mark Roberts blocked Smith's extra-point attempt.

UCLA has lost three of its last six road openers, including its last two. Houston improved to 27-5 at home since the start of the 2006 season.

UCLA (0-0) at Houston (0-0) Sept. 3, 3:30, FSN
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Here’s The Deal … Record-setting Case Keenum is back for a sixth year at Houston, rebounding from a knee injury that shelved him for the final three-quarters of 2010. In an odd twist of fate, the quarterback is returning to face UCLA, last September’s opponent when he tore his ligaments. Keenum will make the Cougars relevant on a national level again, carving up opposing defenses as he inches closer to Timmy Chang’s all-time mark for career passing yards. He also makes them a serious threat against more prominent programs, such as the one visiting Robertson Stadium this weekend. Three years after making a ballyhooed return to his alma mater, Rick Neuheisel realizes he’s running out of time. The Bruins head coach has won just 15 games, making the start of the 2011 season particularly crucial to his future. Nothing can address the program’s general uncertainty and offseason personnel juggling act better than a road victory versus a quality opponent.
Why UCLA Might Win: The one thing the Bruins do very well is run the ball between the tackles. Since Houston struggles to stop the run, it’ll be no mystery how new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson plans to attack Saturday afternoon. UCLA will unleash RB Johnathan Franklin and his deep collection of backups on a beatable Cougars front line. Its quarterbacks, Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, are also athletic, which is one more thing for the Houston run D to worry about. Neuheisel’s starting quarterback should also have success over the top against a rebuilding Cougs secondary, maximizing the size and length of veteran receivers Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree.

Why Houston Might Win: As the offense goes, so go the Cougars. Now that Keenum is back in the huddle, one of the most potent attacks in America is set to spread the field as well as the wealth. The senior has access to a spate of familiar weapons, such as RB Bryce Beall and receivers Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier. There’s no drop-off to shifty backs Michael Hayes and Charles Sims, which means Houston will be able to wear out UCLA with its depth, especially on a scorching September afternoon in Texas. The Cougs linebackers are the exception on an otherwise average defense. Sammy Brown, Phillip Steward and Marcus McGraw will cover enough ground and clean up at least a couple dozen messes left by the front four.

What To Watch Out For: Joe Tresey has had a track record of raising the level of intensity of his defenses at Big East schools. He now brings his brand of aggressiveness west to UCLA, where he’ll be coordinating the Bruins. He takes over an interesting mix of talent. There are veterans, such as LB Sean Westgate, S Tony Dye and DE Datone Jones, who’s back after missing all of 2010 due to an injury. However, it’s the underclassmen that are creating the most excitement in Westwood. DT Cassius Marsh, LB Patrick Larimore and S Dietrich Riley are three of the big-time talents looking to put a spoke in Houston’s offensive wheels.

What Will Happen: Keenum’s return to action is going to be a successful one. Houston is confident, talented and eager to avenge last year’s loss in Los Angeles. While the Cougars will be tested by UCLA’s physical running game, it’ll compensate with a passing attack that keeps the visitors frustrated throughout the afternoon. Franklin will truck for 150 yards and two scores on the ground, but Keenum will one-up the Bruin back by throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns in a triumphant start to his sixth season in Space City.

CFN Prediction: Houston 33 … UCLA 24
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Houston -3.5   O/U: 60.5
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