2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 9 - Rice at Houston
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Oct. 27 at Houston 73 … Rice 34
CFN Analysis: Case Keenum set the all-time record for most touchdown passes thrown for a career, and even though it might seem like the Cougars were rubbing it in, it’s what they need to do to get attention. They’re not talked about in the BCS hunt, and they needed to generate a buzz. Keenum is it. Lost in the shuffle thanks to Keenum’s record-setting night was a brilliant game from Patrick Edwards, who came up with an unstoppable 318 yards and five scores on just seven catches, while Tyrone Carrier caught seven passes for 85 yards and a score while tying the NCAA record for most kickoff returns for a score after taking the opening kickoff the distance. The defense was soft and Rice had a 17-7 lead before the onslaught, and the three turnovers weren’t pretty, but whatever. It was a special night for Keenum and Houston football.
To be kind, this wasn’t exactly the best matchup for Rice. After getting up early it looked like the Owls were going to make this interesting, and then the flood came. The Rice pass defense has been shaky all season long, and then it wasn’t even close as Case Keenum and Patrick Edwards did whatever they wanted for big play after big play. The Rice safeties had an awful night, and the offense couldn’t keep the points coming to give the D a break. The team still came up with 475 yards and held on to the ball for more than 38 minutes, but it wasn’t nearly enough. After losing six of the last seven games, now the Owls have to deal with a good UTEP.
(AP) (AP) HOUSTON -- Houston's Case Keenum had just thrown his fifth touchdown pass against Rice to set the Football Bowl Subdivision record for career TD tosses and coach Kevin Sumlin was screaming at the officials to give him the ball.
They didn't hear him and the record-setting ball sailed into the stands as Houston kicked the extra point.
Sumlin was relieved as he watched the fan who caught it throw it back onto the field so he could present it to his quarterback after the game.
Keenum didn't slow down after that, finishing with a career-high nine TD passes as the Cougars (No. 17 BCS, No. 18 AP) overcame a slow start in a 73-34 win over Rice on a rain soaked Thursday night.
"I bet if the fans knew that was the ball, we wouldn't have got it back," Sumlin said. "That was very, very nice. I'd like to thank our fans for getting that ball back."
Keenum threw an interception and had a fumble returned for a touchdown in the first quarter in heavy rain as Rice built a 17-7 lead.
With the rain at its heaviest, Sumlin expressed his disbelief at the weather into his headset.
"I said: 'Surely it's not going to be like this all night. It can't rain like this all night,'" he said. "I guess somebody heard me because it started to stop after that."
Then the Cougars got going. They outscored Rice 45-3 to take a 52-20 lead by early in the third quarter and cruised to the easy victory to remain undefeated.
Keenum, who became the FBS career leader in total offense last week, has 139 career touchdown passes.
On Thursday he torched Rice's 115th ranked defense by throwing TD passes of 57, 21, 64, 18, 41, 20, 37, 22 and 47 yards to break former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell's record of 134.
"It was a blast," Keenum said. "That was probably the most fun I've ever had playing football."
He had so many touchdown passes, he couldn't remember all of them when asked to recount them after the game.
"Maybe if I thought about it, (but) I don't know if I could list them off to you right now," he said.
Patrick Edwards had seven receptions for 318 yards receiving and five touchdowns for Houston (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA).
Tyler Smith had 170 yards rushing and two rushing and one receiving touchdown for Rice (2-6, 1-4). That included a 97-yard scoring run which was the longest TD run in school history.
"(Keenum) made plays every time they had to, and we couldn't make plays that we needed to stop them," Rice coach David Bailiff said. "We had some opportunities but didn't get it done."
The Owls were ahead 17-7 late in the first quarter before Keenum threw his first touchdown pass for 57 yards to Edwards. The teams exchanged field goals at the beginning of the second quarter to leave Rice up 20-17.
Keenum then threw three touchdown passes in a six minute span at the end of the first half to put Houston on top 38-20 and tie the touchdown passes record.
He set the record on a 41-yard pass to Charles Sims early in the third quarter to push the lead to 45-20. Keenum smiled and flashed the Cougar hand signal when he appeared on the jumbotron on the sidelines after setting the record. His teammates clapped and cheered while fans gave him a standing ovation.
He was 24 of 37 for 534 yards before he was replaced by backup Cotton Turner with eight minutes remaining.
"Those are video game numbers, something we couldn't get stopped," Rice linebacker Justin Allen said of Keenum's performance. "The rain slowed down a little bit ... I wished it would have rained all game. It stopped, and they got things cranked up. There was no looking back for them."
Keenum, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after tearing a knee ligament early last season, needs 267 yards passing to become the FBS's all-time leader in passing yards which is held by Hawaii's Tim Chang (17,072).
Tyron Carrier tied the NCAA record for career kickoff returns for touchdowns with seven by returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a score. Carrier dashed down the right sideline and darted around the defense virtually untouched before outrunning the kicker for the score.
Actually, Carrier said no one got a finger on him on the return.
"Not a touch," he said. "That's the way it should be."
He shares the record with C.J. Spiller of Clemson, who had seven kickoff returns for touchdowns from 2006-09.
Carrier also had a touchdown reception, Sims had two and Justin Johnson added one for the Cougars.
Rice made it 7-3 with a 51-yard field goal by Chris Boswell early in the first quarter.
The Owls used a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff to keep the ball away from Carrier and defensive lineman Austin Lunsford fielded it and fumbled and Rice recovered.
Rice took advantage of the miscue on a 1-yard touchdown run by Smith that made it 10-7.
With the rain coming down at its heaviest, Houston couldn't get its offense going early and had to punt after Rice went ahead. The Cougars next possession ended when Keenum was intercepted by Bryce Callahan.
The Owls came up empty on the ensuing drive when Boswell slipped on the rain-slicked grass and missed a 38-yard field goal attempt.
The wet conditions continued to be a factor on Houston's next drive when the wet ball slipped out of Keenum's hand as he tried to pass. Cameron Nwosu scooped it up and ran 12 yards for a touchdown to push Rice's lead to 17-7.
The rain had let up when Houston got the ball back and Keenum found Edwards for his first touchdown pass.
Rice (2-5) at Houston (7-0) Oct. 27, 8:00, FSN
Here’s The Deal … Houston is making plenty of national headlines these days, and not just for its perfect start or record-setting QB Case Keenum. The board of regents of the nation’s 17th-ranked team is contemplating a move to the Big East, the latest chapter in the ongoing seismic shifts in realignment. On the field, the Cougars have built a head of steam behind the country’s highest-scoring offense, winning three of its last four games by no fewer than five touchdowns. A second straight loss, to Tulsa last Saturday, has Rice fading out of the postseason picture for the third straight year.
The Owls and head coach David Bailiff will focus their attention on more immediate pursuits, such as spoiling the regular season of a long-time rival with a victory for the Bayou Bucket. Complicating the program’s goals over the final month will be the health of starting QB Taylor McHargue, who’s been experiencing concussion-like symptoms from a hit two weeks ago.
Why Rice Might Win: While the Houston defense has played somewhat better of late, you never know when the legs are going to go out on the unit. On three separate occasions, the Cougars have given up at least 34 points, so they can clearly be scored upon. The Owls will counter with one of two options at quarterback, seasoned veteran Nick Fanuzzi or Driphus Jackson, who’d the program like to redshirt in 2011.
Whoever gets the ball from Bailiff will be inclined to quickly get it in the hands of full-sized receivers Luke Willson and Vance McDonald. The pair has combined for seven touchdown passes, and will present matchup problems for the Houston linebackers.
Why Houston Might Win: Marshall brought a decent defense to Robertson Stadium last week, and gave up eight offensive touchdowns. Rice is somewhere south of decent. With Keenum dishing the ball to his cadre of backs and receivers, the Cougars probably won’t punt more than twice. The senior had more touchdown passes (6) than incompletions (4) a week ago, putting shifty playmakers Tyron Carrier, Patrick Edwards, Michael Hayes and Charles Sims in a position to make things happen in space.
The Owls are also yielding more than five yards a carry, which could entice head coach Kevin Sumlin and his assistants to feed the backs a little more often on handoffs this week.
What To Watch Out For: Keenum became the all-time career leader in total offense last weekend, the first of three records he’s expected to smash during this sixth season of eligibility. With no fewer than six games remaining, he stands 801 yards away from the career passing yards mark held by Hawaii’s Timmy Chang, and four touchdown passes away from tying the record held by Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell. While the former could take two games to eclipse, the latter will be within striking distance this Saturday against the Owls.
What Will Happen: Rice ought to brace itself. It’s going to get its buckets kicked by Houston. The Cougars are playing with a healthy amount of swagger and confidence these days, improving as the season evolves. There’ll be no stopping Keenum and the offense, which should surpass the 600-yard mark for the fifth time this fall. The defense will become soft from time to time, but not so much that it threatens the school’s perfect start or spot in the BCS Top 25.
CFN Prediction: Houston 52 … Rice 24
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