Case Keenum sets NCAA record for total offense as Houston cruises

HOUSTON -- Case Keenum hoisted the game ball at midfield, turned to his teammates gathered behind him and smiled to the applauding fans.

A few minutes later, he was already looking ahead to the next game -- and milestone.

Keenum became the Football Bowl Subdivision's career leader in total offense on Saturday, throwing for 376 yards and tying his career high with six touchdown passes as Houston (No. 19 BCS, No. 21 AP) beat Marshall 63-28.

The senior quarterback needed 130 yards to eclipse the record (16,910 yards) set by Hawaii's Tim Chang from 2000-04. He moved past Chang on a 30-yard pass to Justin Johnson with 3:56 left in the first quarter.

"It's awesome, it's incredible," Keenum said. "It's very special, to be in a place like this, in front of a home crowd, and to be able to do that. Nobody else has been able to do that. It means a lot to me."

Keenum completed 24 of 28 passes -- including 15 in a row during one stretch -- and also crept closer to the major college football career records for passing yards and touchdown throws. He needs 802 passing yards to move ahead of Chang's record (17,072) and five TD passes to eclipse the mark (134) set by Texas Tech's Graham Harrell from 2005-08.

He was relieved to get the first record out of the way on Saturday and thinks he'll feel the same about the others as Houston's season moves along.

"I've always used the mentality that, when I take a shower, it's all just going down the drain," he said. "Just like the water is going down the drain there, that's this past game. I'm just washing it off."

Keenum says he's more focused on helping the Cougars keep their unblemised record. Houston (7-0, 3-0 Conference USA) has matched its best start since the 1990 squad won its first eight games, and this season is looking a lot like that one.

The Cougars finished 10-1 and led the nation in total offense (586.8 yards per game) that year, with David Klingler guiding the fast-paced run-and-shoot. Keenum is now leading the country's top offense (604 yards per game) and the Cougars are producing numbers just as eye-popping as those from 21 years ago.

Houston led 35-14 at halftime, and four of its five touchdown drives took less than 90 seconds.

"That's what our offense is capable of doing when we get going and rolling," Keenum said. "It's a lot of fun playing. That's kind of what you come out to play for, times like that."

A.J. Graham threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score for Marshall (3-5, 2-2), which lost handily despite gaining 506 yards and winning possession time by 24 minutes.

"The crazy thing," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said, "was that the one thing we tried to do was win the time of possession, and we did. The first half they had the ball for nine minutes, and we had it for 21, and the score is 35-14."

That's because Keenum was nearly perfect in the first half, completing 19 of 21 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. He also never faced pressure from Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, Conference USA's sacks leader.

The Cougars' offensive line didn't allow a sack, despite frequent blitzes by the Herd and 37 total pass attempts by Keenum and backup Cotton Turner.

"They came into the game knowing they wanted to pressure the quarterback," Houston coach Kevin Sumlin said. "I thought our offensive staff did an excellent job of adjusting during the game. That gave our team things we could execute against."

On Houston's third play from scrimmage, Keenum found Patrick Edwards down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown.

Officials initially threw a flag, ruling that Edwards stepped out of bounds before making the catch. Sumlin challenged the call and upon video review, officials ruled that Edwards was pushed out by a Marshall defender and the touchdown was allowed.

The Thundering Herd took five minutes off the clock with a 12-play, tying touchdown drive later in the first quarter.

Keenum set the total offense record on his next pass, hitting Johnson in stride over the middle. Keenum went 5-for-5 on the drive, and Tyron Carrier made a 12-yard touchdown reception. Carrier has a catch in 46 consecutive games, the nation's longest active streak.

Marshall tied it again, but Charles Sims broke a 51-yard run to the Herd's 18, then scored on a 6-yard run. Michael Hayes, Houston's leading rusher, turned two short passes from Keenum into long touchdowns later in the second quarter as the Cougars began stretching the lead.

Houston had 388 yards at the break.

"It's a good spot to be in, and that's what we're trying to get to every game," Keenum said. "We practice at that level, try to get into a groove, and try and stay in that groove for as long as possible."

Keenum has won 19 consecutive home starts and has 66 touchdown passes with only nine interceptions in that span. He's won 31 games overall as a starter, second only to Boise State's Kellen Moore (45) among active FBS quarterbacks.