Houston Cougars Are Making Noise for BCS Consideration

Houston quarterback Case Keenum, center, orchestrated a 95-yard drive that culminated in this four-yard touchdown run.
Houston quarterback Case Keenum, center, orchestrated a 95-yard drive that culminated in this four-yard touchdown run. (By Thomas B. Shea -- Getty Images)
By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 28, 2009

In a contest that showcased 1,063 yards of total offense, 105 pass attempts and 60 first downs, one defensive stop served as the crux of No. 12 Houston's 29-28 win over visiting Texas Tech on Saturday night.

With just more than 11 minutes remaining in the game and Texas Tech lined up on the Houston 1-yard line, Red Raiders quarterback Taylor Potts was stopped for no gain on fourth and goal. At that point, Texas Tech led by five, but the momentum shifted, and Houston quarterback Case Keenum eventually led his team to victory.

"We need to score, and then we get a half a yard," Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach told reporters of the fourth-and-goal play. "Hindsight, I should have kicked it, which is a fairly big botch on my part, I would say."

Keenum, whose play is enabling him to sneak into Heisman Trophy discussion, marched the Cougars 95 yards in just less than five minutes late in the fourth quarter. With 49 seconds left, he rushed four yards for a touchdown to provide Houston a lead that would stick.

Keenum completed 38 of 58 passes for 435 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The win propelled Houston to 3-0 for the third time in the past 20 seasons. Now possessing wins over two Big 12 teams (including then-No. 5 Oklahoma State), the Cougars are in position to possibly become the first Conference USA team to earn a Bowl Championship Series berth.

Houston will face one more power -conference team (at Mississippi State on Oct. 10). A win over the Bulldogs and an undefeated record in conference play likely would be enough to push Houston into the top 12 in the BCS standings, which would mandate the Cougars' inclusion in a BCS bowl.

"All we can do is play the people on our schedule," Houston Coach Kevin Sumlin told reporters. "We're not going to worry about that."

The Cougars trailed by 11 points in the first half. Potts completed 30 of 45 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown. While Potts's prolific numbers were not surprising, Texas Tech's reliance on its running game was a break from the norm. The Red Raiders registered 163 rushing yards. Junior tailback Baron Batch finished with 114 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

However potent Texas Tech's offense was in the first half, it stalled after the intermission. Houston held the Red Raiders to one score after halftime. Keenum, on the other hand, led the Cougars to three scores, including the late game-winning drive.

On a fourth and three just inside Texas Tech territory, Keenum completed a seven-yard pass to Patrick Edwards to keep the drive alive.

"If you don't look forward to that and have excitement, then you're not alive; you're not human," Keenum told reporters. "It's a lot of fun, and I'd like to do this every week."

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