Beyond the Boxscore
There are only five undefeated teams still standing in major college football — and only one of them is capable of scoring 73 points in any game.
Case Keenum and the University of Houston rolled by Tulane 73-17 on Thursday night in the Louisiana Superdome, the second time in three games that Case & The Coogs have put up 73 points. And 11th-ranked Houston didn't even play close to its best, going the entire first quarter without producing a single point.
That's how it goes for this supersonic offense. Why sweat going scoreless for 15 minutes when you know you can turn around and drop 35 points on the scoreboard in a sudden blitz?
From zero to 35 points in 13:45. That's how much game clock the Cougars needed to squash Tulane. Houston — off to the first 10-0 start in school history — could have limited itself to that 13:45 of second quarter action, given the Green Wave (2-9) the full 60 minutes and still won by more than two touchdowns.
From zero to 35 points in 13:45. That's how much game clock the Cougars needed to squash Tulane.
As it is, Houston won by eight touchdowns. With Keenum sitting out the entire fourth quarter — after completing 76 percent of his passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. A ho-hum game for Keenum that would be a career day for most quarterbacks.
Heck, Keenum didn't even break an all-time NCAA record in this game. What a bum.
"We talk about playing to our standard," UH coach Kevin Sumlin said in his postgame radio interview after his team returned two punts for touchdowns, had a running back rush for 206 yards on only 10 carries (Charles Sims) and a receiver catch three touchdowns (Patrick Edwards).
Case & The Coogs' standards are in another universe from most of their Conference USA opponents. It's like the Cougars are playing Tecmo Bowl with both both Dan Marino and Bo Jackson on their team, while the opposition is stuck with the 1991 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It's enough to make one wonder — especially with Houston in Louisiana Thursday night, only 81 miles or so from the home of the No. 1 college football team in the country — if LSU of the big, bad SEC would really relish playing little UH in a bowl game. It will never happen of course. The Cougars need a bit of miracle (a Boise State home loss to a TCU team that's lost to SMU) to even make one of BCS bowls, having had the misfortune of rolling to its season of ages in a year when another non-automatic qualifying school is undefeated and higher ranked.
The national championship game is out of the question. LSU will be playing another traditional power from a heavyweight conference Jan. 9 in the same Superdome that UH streaked through Thursday night (albeit it one with about five times the number of fans and 1000 times the passion that the Cougars saw in the stands). But would Les Miles and the Tigers truly want to play Houston anyway?
Don't be so quick to answer. Oh sure, LSU would rightly be favored by several touchdowns by the odds makers in any UH matchup. But Miles — the ultimate gambler — might recognize something that could have his team rolling snake eyes against Case & The Coogs.
It makes one wonder if LSU of the big, bad SEC would really relish playing little UH in a bowl game.
Sure, Sam Montgomery and the rest of LSU's NFL-bound defensive line could overwhelm UH to the point where Keenum is seeing shadows before the end of the first quarter. But what if they didn't completely blow up the Cougars' offense? What if Keenum had just a little time and found any type of rhythm?
Keenum's quick release could spell a little trouble for the Tigers and all that pro talent, even if LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu would absolutely love seeing the football in the air so many times. And Keenum's steely experience would be downright dangerous.
When a few Rice players joked that Case Keenum was 28 years old after he dropped 73 points on them a few weeks ago, they were off by five years chronically (Keenum is 23), but right on in their point. Houston's sixth-year redshirt senior has seen it all.
You'd figure that LSU would have absolutely no trouble at all scoring against Houston's defense. But what if the Tigers — who essentially don't have a quarterback that Miles is confident in — did? Do you really think The Hat would want to depend on his two-quarterback "system" if anything close to a freak shootout developed?
It's all conjecture of course — about something that will never happen.
Maybe, that makes it easier for Sumlin to go on The Doug Gottlieb Show and say that he believes his guys could play with any team in the country. But don't be so sure he's wrong. Houston isn't just a 10-0 team, it's arguably the most improved team in the country from the season's opening week to now.
Les Miles and No. 1 LSU will never have to worry about Case & The Coogs and this freaky offense. But they'd lose more sleep than most would expect if they did.