HOUSTON -- Houston's first win over a Big 12 opponent earned
the Cougars their first ranking in 18 years.
The second makes Houston a legitimate contender to become
Conference USA's first BCS buster.
Case Keenum finished off a 95-yard touchdown drive with a 4-yard quarterback keeper with 49 seconds left to give the 17th-ranked
Cougars a 29-28 win over Texas Tech on Saturday night.
Houston coach Kevin Sumlin downplayed the Bowl Championship
"All we can do is play the people on our schedule," he said.
"We're not going worry about that."
The Cougars trailed 21-10 in the first half, but held Tech's
high-powered offense to one second half score.
Houston (3-0) was playing as a ranked team for the first time in
18 years after knocking off then No. 5 Oklahoma State two weeks
ago. A record crowd of 32,114, including Phi Slama Jama stars
Hakeem Olajuwon Clyde Drexler showed up to cheer them on.
Keenum passed for 435 yards and kept the game-winning drive
going with a 7-yard pass to Patrick Edwards on fourth-and-3.
"If you don't look forward to that and have excitement then
you're not alive, you're not human," Keenum said. "It's a lot of
fun and I'd like to do this every week."
The Red Raiders (2-2) led 28-23 midway through the fourth
quarter before Will Ford's interception stopped a Cougar drive. But
Tech couldn't convert and had to punt back to Houston with about
six minutes remaining.
Tech had a last chance for the win but Taylor Potts' desperation throw on the last play of the game was broken up by the Cougars,
sending thousands of Houston fans onto the field.
Potts finished with 321 yards passing and a touchdown pass.
"I thought it became a game of situations where Houston played
better in key situations than we did," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach
Keenum was 38 of 58 and had a touchdown pass and an interception
in the first meeting between these two teams since 1995 when both
were in the Southwest Conference.
It was the shootout most expected with the two teams combining
for 1,063 yards of offense.
But the pass-happy Red Raiders relied more heavily than normal
on their running game. Tech had gained 86 yards rushing in its
first three games but had 163 Saturday.
Of course the Red Raiders still passed plenty. Potts was 30 for
45 with a touchdown pass.
A hands to the face penalty by Tyrell Graham erased an
interception with less than a minute left in the third quarter. But
the Red Raiders weren't able to take advantage of the blunder and
came away empty after Potts was stuffed for no gain on fourth down
from the 1.
"We need to score and then we get a half a yard," Leach said.
"Hindsight I should have kicked it, which is a fairly big botch on
my part I would say."
David Hunter forced his second fumble of the night when he made
Tech freshman Eric Stephens cough it up late in the third quarter. C.J. Cavness recovered it for the Cougars.
They drove to the 4, but came away with only a field goal after
three consecutive incomplete passes. That left the Red Raiders
Potts connected on a 24-yard TD with Tramain Swindall with about
four minutes left in the third quarter. Swindall shed three Houston
defenders, the last near the goal line, on the score that stretched
Tech's lead to 28-20.
Bryce Beall's 1-yard run got Houston within 21-20 midway through
the third quarter. A nifty 45-yard reception by Carrier got the
Cougars in scoring position.
Harrison Jeffers pushed Tech's lead to 21-10 with a 13-yard run
less than a minute before halftime. It was Tech's third rushing TD
of the half after scoring three on the ground in the previous three
Mannisto hit a career-long 50-yard field goal at the end of the
second quarter to make it 21-13 at halftime.
The Red Raiders relied on the run on a 69-yard drive capped by
an 11-yard run by Baron Batch to take a 14-10 lead in the second
quarter. Batch finished with 114 yards rushing.
Keenum put the Cougars up early with a 6-yard touchdown pass to
James Cleveland in the first quarter. It was his school-record 19th
straight game with a touchdown throw, surpassing Heisman Trophy
winner Andre Ware.
A 6-yard run by Batch evened it up at 7-all later in the first
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South Carolina's loss to The Citadel, coupled with Georgia and Florida struggling in tight victories, was an embarrassment for the conference.
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Ohio - Northern Illinois Postgame Breakdown
Needing the ball back, Northern Illinois breaks out the trickery and goes with a dropkick onsides kick, but Ohio was ready and recovered for the win.
Tommy Fiedler pass complete to Kenny Golladay for 11 yds for a TD
Tommy Fiedler pass complete to Juwan Brescacin for 7 yds to the Ohio 40