Keenum ends record-setting career with bowl win

Case Keenum finished his record-setting career with another

performance for the history books.

The sixth-year senior threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns,

leading No. 20 Houston to 30-14 victory against No. 24 Penn State

in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday.

The Cougars (13-1) finished with a school record for victories

and made Tony Levine a winner in his debut as Houston coach. Levine

took over when Kevin Sumlin left to take the Texas A&M job

after the regular season.

Keenum came into the game as the NCAA’s career leader in yards

passing and touchdowns passes, then set a bowl record with 227

yards passing in the first quarter.

”I’m biased, obviously. I’d put him right at the top,” Levine

said when asked where Keenum ranks among the best college

quarterbacks of all time. ”You don’t win 12 games by accident and

I don’t think you don’t break the records he broke by accident,

either.”

Keenum wasn’t concerned with his place. He leaves Houston as the

school career leader with 37 wins, and that’s what he chose to

focus on.

”As far as rankings and all that goes, I’m concerned with our

team ranking and how we end up,” Keenum said. ”Thirteen and one,

I hope we end up in the top 15 in the country.”

The loss put to rest Penn State’s tumultuous year with three

losses in the last four games. Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno was

fired as part of a child sex-abuse scandal involving former

defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky that shook college sports.

”I thought the guys came out and they played hard. It’s been a

difficult year for them,” Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley

said. ”It just didn’t go our way.”

The Nittany Lions (9-4) were picked apart by Keenum. Penn State

was allowing 162 yards passing per game, but Keenum threw for more

than double that by halftime.

The Cougars raced out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter behind

Keenum’s record-setting period.

According to TicketCity officials, Louisville’s Browning Nagle

had the old mark with 223 yards against Alabama in the first

quarter of the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.

Keenum worked the spread offense to perfection, with five

different Cougars catching at least five balls. Patrick Edwards,

one of the country’s leading receivers, had 228 yards and two

scores in the last game of his collegiate career. Justin Johnson

had 12 catches for 148 yards.

Keenum is the ninth player in bowl history to pass for at least

500 yards. He thought he could have done better.

”We left a lot out there,” Keenum said. ”There were a lot of

throws I missed.”

Houston came into the game determined to end the season on a

high note having its BCS Bowl hopes dashed on Dec. 3. The

undefeated Cougars fell to Southern Miss in the Conference USA

championship game, costing UH a shot at the school’s first BCS

bid.

”That was the fluke,” Levine said of the lone loss, ”and not

the 12 wins leading up to it.”

Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden finished 7 of 26 passing for

137 yards, with three interceptions. Houston wanted Bolden, the

backup quarterback all season, to air it out as much as

possible.

”We know they were going to try to run the ball,” Cougars

linebacker Marcus McGraw said. ”We just wanted to get them in

second and long, third and long, and wanted them to pass the ball

knowing they had a second string quarterback.”

Keenum said he’s ready for his next stop – the NFL.

”I rate my chances good,” he said. ”I’m very confident in my

abilities. I’ve been playing this game a long time and I’m not

going to change my game.”