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,
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
”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
”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
”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.”