Case Keenum has played a lot of football.
He's thrown an awful lot of passes, so many in fact he'll finish his college football career having thrown more touchdowns and likely more yards than anyone in NCAA history.
But even the sixth-year Houston Cougars senior quarterback who will go down in college football lore said he's never had as a game quite like the one he had last Thursday in a 73-34 C-USA win over cross-town rival Rice.
"That was probably the most fun I've ever had playing football," Keenum said.
All Keenum did was toss nine touchdowns, on 24-of-37 passes for 534 yards. Those nine touchdown passes gave Keenum 139 for his career, meaning he didn't just break the previous record of former Texas Tech star Graham Harrell (134), he obliterated it and still has as many as six games to play.
The 534 passing yards gives Keenum 16,805 passing yards for his career, pulling him within 267 yards of former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang's NCAA record of 17,072 yards, meaning he could break that record in the team's Nov. 5 road game at Alabama-Birmingham.
"It's always fun to be a part of Case's records," senior wide receiver Patrick Edwards said. "We're just out there doing our job and making him look good."
Edwards certainly has had a say in all those Keenum records. The speedy senior wide out had a record-setting night himself against Rice, hauling in seven catches that went for 318 yards (45.4 yards per reception) and five receiving touchdowns.
As Keenum has said throughout this 8-0 season, despite his records, this is hardly a team only about him -- and he thinks others are finally starting to notice.
"We're a pretty special team," Keenum said. "We felt the same way since we started. I think other people's minds are changing, our mindset has been the same since day one."
--For the second consecutive C-USA game, Houston's opponents figured their best bet to beat the Cougars was to get to QB Case Keenum, pressure him with blitzes and take him out of the game with a few hard hits.
For the second consecutive week, the Cougars offense and Keenum's ability to read those blitzes and find the open receiver, made the opponent pay. This time, Keenum threw for 534 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
The credit, though, also belongs to that offensive line, according to Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.
"As for Case and the offense," Sumlin said, "there was protection involved. They blitzed him again, which was the same game plan we saw last weekend and we can get the ball downfield."
--Aside from all the offensive fireworks and record-setting performances from Houston QB Case Keenum and WRs Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier in the Cougars' 73-34 win over Rice last Thursday, the fact that the game itself was a rivalry showdown, and a revenge game, wasn't lost on the Cougars.
Rice upset Houston in 2010, 34-31, to take possession of the traveling trophy the two Houston-based teams play for each year, the Bayou Bucket.
"Playing Rice in the Bayou Bucket is always special to both teams," Keenum said. "We take it pretty personally. It's a fight. Rice came in and played well."
--Obviously the 73 points scored by the undefeated Houston Cougars in Thursday's rivalry win over Rice were impressive enough, but consider this: The Cougars left plenty of scoring opportunities on the field.
First, the Cougars called the dogs off and had their 73 points with more than 10 minutes remaining in the game. But then a look at the drive chart from that game almost boggles the mind when you see that of the 19 possessions Houston had, the Cougars punted three times, had three drives end in turnovers and had another drive end on downs.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Tyron Carrier -- Sure, the records QB Case Keenum are chasing are more talked about, but Carrier is on the brink of a pretty special NCAA all-time record himself. When the senior took the opening kick of last Thursday's game against Rice 100 yards for a touchdown, it gave him seven career kick return touchdowns, tying former Clemson star RB C.J. Spiller (2006-09) for the all-time record. It was also Carrier's second career kick return for a touchdown against Rice. He also had a 99-yard return for a touchdown on Nov. 28, 2009, at home in Robertson Stadium.
LOOKING GOOD: The Houston offense continues to be as good as any college offense has been in recent years. The argument about the weak competition is a valid one, but the reality is, the way this offense is clicking, there isn't another team coming close to the offensive dominance the Cougars have displayed. From a statistical standpoint, QB Case Keenum is as good as any QB in the nation, WR Patrick Edwards is as good as any WR in the country and WR Tyron Carrier might just be as dangerous a No. 2 receiver as any team has, not to mention being one of the college game's all-time best kick returners.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Well, QB Case Keenum did have that first-quarter interception, so surely he's disappointed in his performance. Truth is the Cougars, despite the 73 points scored against Rice last Thursday, can't get away all season with three turnovers as they had against the Owls (one Keenum interception, one Keenum lost fumble returned for a Rice touchdown and one Austin Lunsford lost fumble on a kick return). The Cougars defense also was its normal self, getting away with allowing nearly 500 yards of total offense to a weak Rice team, including 359 rushing yards. Each week critics say that can't continue, but each week the Cougars seem to get away with it.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not so surprised by it. They tried to stop us but it didn't work so well." -- Houston WR Tyron Carrier on Rice's game plan to pressure QB Case Keenum in last Thursday's 73-34 win by Houston.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Patrick Edwards had seven receptions for a career-high 318 yards and five touchdowns last Thursday against Rice. It was his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game, fourth straight with a touchdown reception and 42nd consecutive game with a reception. His 45.4 yards per reception for the game set a new C-USA record. the five touchdowns tied a school record (Manny Hazard had five touchdown catches on Oct. 17, 1989, vs. Baylor). He also tied the school record with 34 career touchdown receptions (Elmo Wright had 34 from 1968-70). Oh, and his yardage and touchdown totals are single-game highs across the nation this year.
"He's a dominant player," QB Case Keenum said. "He can take over the field when he wants to."
--RB Charles Sims had seven rushes for 50 yards and four receptions for 73 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions. He has scored at least one touchdown in five consecutive games.
--LB Marcus McGraw had eight tackles vs. Rice last Thursday (two solo, six assists). Those six assists give him 234 career assisted tackles, a new school record, breaking the previous mark of 228 held by current Houston Texans defensive coordinator and former Houston Cougars great Wade Phillips (1966-68)
--WR Tyron Carrier, according to head coach Kevin Sumlin, has been nursing an unspecified leg injury for about a month now. It didn't seem to hamper his speed in the slightest on his 100-yard kick return for a touchdown to open last Thursday's C-USA game against Rice.
"For Carrier, that week off, you knew he was limping off and playing hurt the last couple of weeks and now he has turned it up since he's been healthy," Sumlin said.
--SS Colton Valencia played last Thursday against Rice, his first game action since hurting his neck Oct. 8 against East Carolina. He did not register a tackle against the Owls.