“It was a blast,” Case Keenum said after the 73-34 win over Rice in a deluge. It was October 27, 2011, and Case had just thrown for 9 touchdowns and set the NCAA record for career TD passes.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing football.”
It was the craziest game in Robertson Stadium history. Rice actually led 17-7 after two early turnovers by Keenum in the downpour but as the rain stopped, Case went off. He threw touchdowns of 57, 21, 64, 18, 41, 20, 37, 22, and 47 yards to blow by Graham Harrell (1) and Timmy Chang (2) on the all-time passing touchdown list.
Before Keenum could start dropping dimes, Tyron Carrier ran back the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, tying the NCAA record for career TD returns. The 100-yard return tied Clemson’s CJ Spiller career mark of seven kickoff returns for touchdowns.
“Not a touch,” Carrier smiled when asked if a Rice defender had gotten close to him. “That’s the way it should be.” Carrier also returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Rice in 2009 but only went 99 yards on that one. Those two kick returns vs. Rice were the two longest in his historic career.
“After that first touchdown run, this place was electric,” Keenum said after the game. “It was probably the craziest I’ve seen this place. Just the feel of the atmosphere was the most electric in my six years here. The students were awesome.
“Now if we can just get the old folks screaming then this could be one of the toughest places to play around.”
Not to be outdone, Patrick Edwards tied a school record with five touchdown receptions. He caught just seven passes but had 318 yards, the second-most receiving yards in UH history. Edwards TD catches went for 57, 64, 37, 22, 47 yards. His two other receptions: 48 and 43 yards. It was Edwards’ fourth-straight game over 100 yards.
“Those are video game numbers, something we couldn’t get stopped,” Rice linebacker Justin Allen admitted.
Keenum finished with 534 yards on just 24 completions, the 8th-highest passing day ever at UH. It is the highest yards per completion in UH history (minimum 20 completions).
The first quarter played out in the most surreal fashion. After Carrier’s kickoff return, Rice went down the field and kicked a field goal. UH fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Rice scored a touchdown three plays later and led 10-7. The Owls forced a Richie Leonie punt on the Coogs’ next possession. UH’s next two drives ended in an interception and a Rice scoop and score thanks to a Keenum fumble. Rice led 17-7 while UH had just 34 yards on 13 plays. The rain-drenched crowd was stunned into silence.
But on the next play from scrimmage, and the last of the first quarter, Keenum hit a wide-open Patrick Edwards on a 57-yard bomb to get the Cougars within three, 17-14. It was the first of nine-straight scores for the Cougars. In that span, UH scored 52 points on 41 plays in less than 11 minutes of time of possession.
UH’s 73 points tied the 2009 team for the most-ever vs. Rice. Keenum’s 9 touchdowns equaled his total TDs in his three previous Bayou Bucket games (2007-2009).
The defense could not keep up with the offense but all of Phillip Steward, Derrick Mathews, and Sammy Brown had 10 or more tackles. Kicker Matt Hogan scored 13 points including 10 PATs, which is the third-most in a game in UH history (he also kicked 10 PATs two weeks later vs. Tulane).
Gallery: NCAA Records Broken in the 2011 Bayou Bucket