Keenum's nine touchdown passes against the hapless Owls were more than any other I-A/FBS quarterback has thrown in more than a decade, moving his career total to 139 touchdown passes, more than any other college quarterback has thrown, ever. Eight of the nine Thursday night covered at least 20 yards. Eight of nine came before the start of the fourth quarter. His 534 yards through the air set a single-game high for the season. His top receiver, Patrick Edwards, set a season high with 318 yards and five touchdowns.
Keenum's fifth scoring strike of the night — a 64-yarder to Edwards — gave the sixth-year senior the NCAA's all-time career touchdown mark previously held by former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. This a week after he set the FBS record for total offense.
The incredible part: The overwhelming majority of the damage came in just two quarters, between a slow start — the Cougars didn't score on offense until the final play of a rain-soaked first quarter — and a merciful finish, after they called off the dogs early in the fourth. Keenum threw so many touchdown passes in such a short window, he lost track of who was on the other end.
"Maybe if I thought about it, [but] I don't know if I could list them off to you right now," Keenum said. "It was a blast. That was probably the most fun I've ever had playing football."
Chances are if Keenum had said Edwards' name on any of the touchdowns, he probably would have been close. While Keenum found four different receivers for at least four catches and one touchdown apiece, it was Edwards — who is probably best remembered for suffering an ugly broken leg in a nationally televised game against Marshall in 2008 — who stole the show on scoring strikes covering 57, 64, 37, 22 and 47 yards. His other two catches on the night covered 43 and 48 yards. Let's do the math: That's an average of 45.4 yards per catch, on seven catches.
Now the Keenum record-breaking tour continues with his sights set on the FBS all-time passing yards record of 17,072, which is held by former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang. Keenum needs just 267 yards to top that mark and based on his previous performances this season, he should get that in the first half — maybe the first quarter - against UAB.
With roughly a quarter of the season remaining, Keenum's long-shot Heisman campaign looks a little like this: He should take a commanding lead in national total offense and passing yards per game and will continue to climb in passing and pass efficiency, where he's already in the top seven nationally on both counts, by the end of the weekend. Also, Houston is 8-0 for the first time since 1990, when it finished the season 10-1. Sounds like a legitimate candidate to me.
Keenum will always be held back because he's a "system quarterback," putting up gaudy numbers against some of the worst defenses in the country in Conference USA. But he still has to execute the system, and few have ever been executed to such devastating effect on such a consistent basis.
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