Case Keenum is approaching a number of NCAA records, but the only numbers concerning the Houston quarterback are wins and losses. So far, the 21st-ranked and unbeaten Cougars couldn't be any more pleased. Keenum tries to lead Houston to its first 7-0 start in 21 years Saturday when it hosts a Marshall team that could use two quarterbacks to try to win two straight for the first time this year. Granted a sixth year of eligibility after a torn ACL limited him to three games in 2010, Keenum is on pace to become the first player in NCAA history with three 5,000-yard passing seasons. He has completed 71.4 percent of his throws for 2,309 yards with 17 touchdowns and two interceptions in 2011, and is the driving force behind the Cougars (6-0, 2-0 Conference USA) getting off to their best start since opening with eight wins in 1990.
Team success is what motivates Keenum, not being 130 yards shy of passing Timmy Chang (16,910) for the NCAA career total offense record, 1,178 yards from Chang's passing yardage mark (17,072) or needing 11 touchdown passes to surpass former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell (134) for first place in that category. While Keenum is the unquestioned leader of the nation's top-ranked offense (603.7 yards per game) and passing attack (435.5), Marshall (3-4, 2-1) is merely hoping one of its quarterbacks will grab hold of the starting job.
Making his first career start in last Saturday's 24-20 victory over Rice after true freshman Rakeem Cato started the first six contests, sophomore A.J. Graham completed just 12 of 23 passes for 110 yards with an interception. However, Graham provided a huge lift to the Thundering Herd's 103rd-ranked rushing offense (104.3 yards per game), producing 129 yards and two scores on his own. Marshall senior defensive end Vinny Curry played last week just days after his mother passed away, and forced a fumble, recovered another, recorded 3 1/2 sacks and had four tackles for loss. Sammy Brown is one of the Cougars' best on defense. The senior linebacker had a career-high 2 1/2 sacks against East Carolina as Houston finished with nine sacks and four interceptions, both season highs.
The Houston Cougars and Boise State Broncos are the only teams outside the BCS conferences that still have perfect records. The Cougars are currently ranked 21 in the polls and if they continue to win they will continue to climb although their ceiling might be top 15 as they really haven’t played anybody this year. They have to be zeroed in on a matchup with SMU later this month but it won’t mean anything if they don’t take care of business from now until then. The Cougars have a great opportunity to finish the season undefeated, realizing the promise that was dashed last year when Keenum went down for the season. As you can tell by the spread the Cougars should win easily but they have played several close games where there the defense has let the opponent stay in the game forcing Keenum to keep bombing away. Marshall is not as dynamic as some of those previous opponents so an easy victory is to be expected. Houston sets the pace early and their defense finishes the job rolling easily this afternoon. Best of luck however you play!