55F Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
With the pursuit of a trio of NCAA career records out of the way, Houston quarterback Case Keenum can now focus exclusively on leading his school to its first unbeaten season.
The 11th-ranked Cougars continue that quest with a visit to struggling Tulane on Thursday night.
Already owning NCAA records for total offense and passing touchdowns, Keenum surpassed Hawaii's Timmy Chang by extending his five-year yardage total to 17,212 in a 56-13 rout of UAB on Saturday.
While helping his team clinch the best start in program history, Keenum was 39 of 44 for 407 yards and two touchdowns passes while also running for a pair of scores.
"I don't take any of these things lightly," Keenum said. "I'm not going to fully enjoy it and celebrate it until after the season. Hopefully, I will have a lot more to celebrate after the season than just the records."
One accomplishment the Cougars (9-0, 5-0 Conference USA) could celebrate this week is their seventh season with 10 or more victories and third in the past six years. A win over the Green Wave (2-8, 1-5), losers of seven in a row, would also move them one shy of matching their school record for victories in a season, set in 1973 and matched in 1979.
Houston has won eight straight against Tulane, though it needed a pair of late touchdowns to pull away for a 42-23 victory in last season's matchup - the first game following Keenum's season-ending knee injury.
Bryce Beall ran for 123 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in that win. The school's third all-time leading rusher, however, has not played since Oct. 8 because of undisclosed reasons.
That means the Cougars will likely continue to rely on Keenum and the backfield duo of Michael Hayes and Charles Sims, who have gained more than 460 yards apiece while each scoring seven TDs this season.
Keenum has topped 370 yards in each of his last two games against Tulane and connected on a combined six touchdowns. He had 371 yards and two TDs during a 44-16 rout in New Orleans on Oct. 17, 2009.
This time, Keenum will lead Houston's high-powered offense, ranked first in three major categories, against a Green Wave team that's 111th out of 120 FBS teams in scoring defense (36.0 points per game).
Tulane has lost by 16 or more six times during its current skid and seven times this season.
All 24 of the Green Wave's points Saturday at SMU came in the third quarter, but those weren't nearly enough to overcome a 31-0 halftime deficit in a 45-24 defeat.
Junior quarterback Ryan Griffin had 175 of his 214 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. He also didn't throw an interception after having four passes picked off over the previous three games, but did fumble in SMU territory in the fourth quarter.
"We wanted them to go out, not look at the scoreboard and take the second half play by play and just battle," interim coach Mark Hutson said. "The game could have really gotten away from us in the second half, but we went out and competed."
Griffin was knocked out of last season's defeat at Houston with a shoulder injury.
Tulane is on its longest losing streak since dropping 10 in a row Oct. 4, 2008-Sept. 12, 2009, and trails 12-4 in the series.
The Cougars are seeking their fourth consecutive road win over the Green Wave. They also beat Tulane in Lafayette, La., in 2005.