75F O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX
As he solidifies his spot among the best quarterbacks in NCAA history, Houston's Case Keenum continues to garner most of the headlines. The 11th-ranked Cougars, though, are far from a one-man show.
Keenum and the rest of the Houston seniors play their final home game Saturday when they try to extend the program's best start with a sixth consecutive victory over SMU.
The NCAA leader in total offense (18,434), passing touchdowns (144) and passing yards (17,537), Keenum could move to the top of two more lists before Houston (10-0, 6-0 Conference USA) closes out the regular season at Tulsa on Nov. 25.
He is seven completions shy of setting the all-time mark with 1,404 and needs one more 300-yard passing game to tie former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang's record of 36.
Keenum, however, received plenty of help as the Cougars rolled over Tulane 73-17 on Nov. 10 to keep their chances of a BCS bowl bid alive. After Houston failed to record points in the opening 15 minutes to snap a string of 19 consecutive quarters with a score, sophomore Charles Sims had TD runs of 72 and 52 yards to spark a 35-point second quarter.
Sims finished with a career-high 207 yards and earned conference offensive player of the week honors.
"(Charles is) a special, really talented player and just a lot of fun to watch," Keenum said after going 22 of 29 for 325 yards and three TDs in less than three quarters of work. "It's nice to have him in the backfield right there next to me."
It's also been nice for the Cougars quarterback to have seniors Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier lined up on the outside.
Edwards, who scored on a 70-yard punt return against Tulane and caught each of Keenum's touchdowns, is tied for the FBS lead with 14 receiving TDs. Edwards needs 107 yards to set the conference record with 4,139.
Carrier, the team leader with 69 receptions for 771 yards, can match a Houston record if he extends his nation-best streak to 50 games with a catch. Eight receptions will give him the C-USA mark with 301.
"We are manufacturing points all kinds of ways," said coach Kevin Sumlin, whose team leads the nation with 628.8 yards and 54.7 points per game. "Everyone is getting in on the act. You know at this time of year, you need that."
Keenum goes for his 23rd consecutive home win - 20 have come as a starter - as he faces SMU (6-4, 4-2) for the first time since throwing for 233 yards and a TD to Edwards in a 38-15 home victory Oct. 24, 2009.
Keenum, 3-0 versus the Mustangs, was sidelined with a knee injury last Oct. 23 when Michael Hayes and Bryce Beall each rushed for two scores in a 45-20 victory in Dallas.
SMU is bowl eligible for the third consecutive season under coach June Jones, but the team arrives in Houston with one win over the last four weeks after nearly cracking the Top 25 with a 5-1 start.
SMU has committed 10 turnovers in the past four contests. Senior J.J. McDermott threw two INTs, one in the end zone, during a 24-17 loss to Navy on Saturday.
"It's about discipline and turning the ball over," senior wide receiver Cole Beasley said after catching a TD and running for one.
If the Mustangs are going to defeat a second straight ranked opponent - they won 40-33 in overtime at then-No. 20 TCU on Oct. 1 - they'll likely have to limit those mistakes and give plenty of touches to Zach Line. The junior has run for 17 TDs and is sixth in the nation with 122.4 rushing yards per game.
Line ran for 106 yards against Houston last season.
The Cougars have allowed 858 yards on the ground in the last four games. Houston, though, has outscored opponents 286-89 in five home contests.