On December 31, 2008, the Houston Cougars ended a 28-year bowl losing streak, beating Air Force, 34-28, in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Case Keenum had a big day: he ran for two touchdowns, threw a 13-yard TD pass to Andre Kohn, and became just the second UH quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season.
Leading up to the game, the players and coaches made snapping the streak a priority, especially for the seniors that had lost bowl games the previous three years.
“That wasn’t a streak we were happy with,” said senior Phillip Hunt, who had two sacks and a fumble recovery. “It is good to set a winning tradition here. Hopefully, our young guys will come along and keep it up.”
Freshman Bryce Beall ran for 135 yards and a score while Tyron Carrier became the first UH freshman to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Houston had lost eight-straight bowls and gone 10,237 days since bowl wins. A loss to Air Force in Fort Worth would have tied the longest-ever bowl losing streak.
“We wanted to be the team that broke that record,” Beall said emphatically.
The Coogs and Falcons had met earlier in the season in a game scheduled for Houston. But with Hurricane Ike fast approaching, the game was moved to SMU’s Ford Stadium. A disjointed and distracted UH team trailed by 24 points and, despite a late rally, fell 31-28.
But the Cougars were ready for the rematch. Air Force fumbled the opening kickoff and UH scored four plays later. After an Air Force touchdown, Keenum hit Beall on a 40-yard bomb and later in the drive, snuck it in for another score. Just one of UH’s 13 drives lasted longer than 2:36.
Marcus McGraw and CJ Cavness each had 15 tackles while McGraw forced an Air Force fumble.