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The stats that mattered from Houston's 30-14 win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl, from Derek Moye's goose egg, to Case Keenum's gunslinging, to Rob Bolden's perfect form on short-hoppers.
Keenum added to his NCAA record passing totals by completing 45-of-69 pass attempts for 533 yards and three touchdowns as the 20th-ranked Cougars downed the beleaguered Nittany Lions 30-14. The win was a school-record 13th for the Cougars, and the first for new head coach Tony Levine, who was hired when Kevin Sumlin left for the Texas A&M Aggies job.
Keenum credited offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury for a solid game plan that allowed the Cougars to open up a 17-point lead on Penn State in the first quarter.
"Yeah. I mean, great game plan," Keenum said. "We had that game plan from the first week we watched film. I thought Coach Kingsbury and our offensive coaches did a great job of getting our guys in space, mixing up our quick game, then taking a few shots down the field, then being able to jump off some short screens."
Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley said that the team played hard, but things just didn't go their way.
"I thought the guys came out and they played hard. It's been a difficult year for them," Bradley said. "It just didn't go our way."
Penn State's focus now turns to finding a full-time replacement for Joe Paterno, who was fired as part of the fallout from a sexual abuse case that has rocked the university. Following Monday's loss, Paterno's son, Jay Paterno, an assistant on the Penn State coaching staff , got emotional discussing his father, who was diagnosed with cancer and is recovering from a broken pelvis.
"I'm looking forward to everybody knowing what I know about him and his character and that he has always done what is right," Jay Paterno said.
In addition to Bradley, current Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman have interviewed for the Penn State head coaching job. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is also reported to be a candidate.
There will surely be those who continue to doubt Case Keenum's ability to succeed at the next level, but he took at least a step in the direction of answering some of the concerns over his abilities while leading the Houston Cougars to a 30-14 win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday. Keenum completed 44 of 68 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars overcame the disappointment of losing in the Conference USA title game and beat their first ranked opponent of the season.
Keenum got the Cougars off to a fast start while leading his team to scores on their first three possessions. The Cougars jumped out to a 17-0 lead following a pair of touchdown passes from Keenum and never led by fewer than 10 points after that. Although the Cougars were held out of the endzone and Keenum was stopped from essentially rewriting the record book (he did set a record for most completions in a bowl game) during the second half, they were able to move the ball whenever they needed to and avoided any turnovers.
The Cougars defense, meanwhile, had little trouble slowing down the Nittany Lions offense. The Cougars intercepted Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden three times and held him to just 7 of 26 passing. Penn State did get a little life in the third quarter when Bolden hooked up with Justin Brown on a 69-yard touchdown that cut their deficit to 27-14, but the Cougars immediately answered with a field goal.
Keenum wasn't the only Cougars player to put some outrageous numbers. Patrick Edwards caught nine passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including one that went for 75 yards. Justin Johnson caught Keenum's other touchdown throw and racked up 147 yards on 12 catches. Keenum, who already had the NCAA record for all-purpose yards, went over 20,000 for his career and the Cougars compiled more than 600 yards of offense in the game.
It appears Penn State could only hold back the deluge for so long. After limiting Case Keenum to just a field goal in the third quarter, the Houston Cougars embarked on a 66-yard drive that culminated with a field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter to push their lead to 30-14 in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday.
The Cougars' score came on the drive immediately after Rob Bolden threw a 69-yard pass to cut the Nittany Lions' deficit to 27-14. But Keenum, who had been limited to "just" 68 yards on the Cougars' first two possessions of the half reverted to form.
The Cougars actually picked up 24 yards rushing on the drive, but the heavy lifting was done by Keenum. At the end of the drive, he was closing in on several bowl records. He has completed 40 of 59 passes for 491 yards.
Penn State seems to have managed to get the second half of the TicketCity Bowl to be played at more of their speed. After limiting the Houston Cougars to "just" 68 yards passing and a single field goal during their first two possessions, the Nittany Lions got back into the game on a 69-yard Rob Bolden touchdown throw that cut the deficit to 27-14.
The touchdown came one play after the Nittany Lions nearly turned it over when Bolden was hit in the back and fumbled. But Penn State recovered the ball. On the next play, Bolden found Justin Brown behind the Houston defense. Brown made a finger-tips catch and sprinted into the endzone.
The Cougars offense hasn't exactly looked bad, but it has not been nearly as effective as it was in the first half. The Cougars punted on their first possession, just the second of the day, and settled for a field goal on their second after failing to convert a third-and-1 situation.
Case Keenum had the kind of first half you only see on videogames: 29-of-45 passing for 381 yards and three touchdowns. A big part of that was his 75-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Edwards early in the second quarter.
On the play, Keenum stepped up in the pocket nicely to avoid the pressure and then found Edwards all alone about 45 yards down field. Edwards caught the pass in stride and could have almost walked into the endzone from there.
In case you're wondering, the Keenum was able to attempt 46 passes in no small part because the Cougars essentially ignored the running game. Houston called just four running plays in the half.
Case Keenum threw three touchdowns and passed for 380 yards as the Houston Cougars took a 24-7 to lead into halftime over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday. Keenum led the Cougars to scores on each of their first three possessions and only failed to score on the fourth because of a missed field goal. Andrew Hogan also missed a kick at the end of the first half and the Cougars punted just once.
Patrick Edwards was the biggest beneficiary of Keenum's passing, making six catches for 201 yards and scoring a pairing of touchdowns. Edwards scored on 40- and 75-yard pass plays. Justin Johnson caught Keenum's other touchdown throw, making eight catches for 96 yards.
After falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter, Penn State was able to temporarily cut the lead to 17-7 early in the second quarter. Their touchdown followed Hogan's first missed field goal and was capped off by Stephfon Green's 6-yard run. Quarterback Rob Bolden was held to just 2 of 10 passing for 55 yards.
The 2012 TicketCity Bowl is nearing some embarrassing territory. The Houston Cougars, who've called 23 passes and zero runs, have outscored the Penn St. Nittany Lions, 17-0, with two minutes left in the first quarter. The latest: an 11-yard toss to Justin Johnson, followed by a show of frustration from PSU's secondary.
Will the mighty Penn St. Nittany Lions defense be able to shut down the thunderous Houston Cougars offense? That was the primary question coming into the TicketCity Bowl. So far, Case Keenum and company have answered in the negative, with touchdown buddy Patrick Edwards snaring only the third aerial score PSU has given up all season -- on the opening drive, no less.
The 40-yard touchdown is the 19th Edwards has grabbed from Keenum this year. It's the latest mark in one of the most impressive passing years and careers in college football history, but let's not get greedy, fans of pyrotechnics. Expect the Nittany Lions to adjust to facing a rare (for them) spread offense as Devon Still starts gaining steam up front.
Penn State and Houston virtually play two different sports. They will provide the ultimate contrast in styles when they face off in the Cotton Bowl for TicketCity Bowl 2012. Can Houston handle an even meaner defensive front than the one that just gashed them? Can Rob Bolden lead an offense that actually makes a play or two?
The Penn State Nittany Lions and the Houston Cougars are set to meet in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl. The Cougars are coming off a disappointing loss in the Conference USA title game to Southern Miss, which also ruined their chance at a perfect season. "It was in our grasp," said quarterback Case Keenum, "and we let it slip away." The Cougars will bring their top ranked offense against one of the better defenses in the NCAA. Houston averages over 50 points a game and 599 yards of total offense per game. The Cougars will also be looking to send head coach Kevin Sumlin out on a victory, as he gets set to take the head coaching position at Texas A&M and will not be coaching the team in the Bowl game.
Penn State on the other hand is just trying to get the 2011 season over with so they can put behind them a scandal ridden year. In the wake of Jerry Sandusky and a plethora of other problems which ultimately led to the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno, the Lions will bring a struggling offense and an excellent defense to try and knock off the Cougars. The Nittany Lions average just 19.8 points per game, which won't be enough to keep up with the Cougars, even with a defense that only gives up 15.7 points per game on average.
Game date, time: 12:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, January 2nd
Location: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
TV channel: ESPNU/ESPN3
Odds: Houston favored by 7 points
For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news coverage. And visit our many college football blogs. For more on Penn State, head to Black Shoe Diaries. For more on the 2011 college football bowl season, visit our dedicated section.
Both the Houston Cougars and the Penn State Nittany Lions may struggle to muster up motivation for the Monday's TicketCity Bowl. The Houston Tigers were on their way to an undefeated season and a potential BCS National Championship Game berth before losing to Southern Miss in the last week of the regular season. Head coach Kevin Sumlin decided to move on to the same position at Texas A&M, leaving Tony Levine to lead the Cougars in the interim. Penn State, meanwhile, is still feeling the ramifications of a sex scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky that resulted in the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno.
With both schools undergoing transition, it's tough to know what to expect from the game. The Cougars still presumably have one of the best offenses in college football, led by Case Keenum. The senior quarterback earned plenty of Heisman talk during the regular season, leading the FBS with 5,099 passing yards and 45 touchdowns on the season. Whether Houston has a defense is another matter. Against a Conference USA schedule they haven't exactly been tested. Luckily for them, Penn State's offense is only rumor.
The Nittany Lions averaged under 20 points per game, in large part due to some shaky quarterback play. Junior Matthew McGloin eventually earned the permanent starting nod over Rob Bolden, but was hardly stellar. Bolden was worse, though, completing just 42 percent of his passes and throwing four interceptions to just one touchdown on the year. Unfortunately for Penn State, it appears McGloin may be out with a concussion suffered during a fight with teammate Curtis Drake, potentially giving Bolden the task of keeping pace with Keenum.
Penn State will like depend on its defense to beat the Cougars, as they have all season. The Nittany Lions gave up just 15.7 points per game during the season, led by All-American defensive tackle Devon Still. Slowing down Keenum is a daunting task no matter how good your defense is however, especially with the weight of outside distractions potentially dragging you down.
For more on the TicketCity Bowl, head over to the SB Nation Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries, as well as the game's official site. For more on the 2011-12 bowl season, check out our NCAA Football hub.
Penn State will be without four players, including wide receiver Curtis Drake when they take on the Houston Cougars in the 2011 TicketCity Bowl.
As noted daily, the Penn St. Nittany Lions are the last FBS program without a head coach for next year. Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak appears to be the top candidate at the moment, but there's really nothing solid to indicate he's even interested in the position.
They've been contacted via Facebook by recruits seeking advice, and underclassmen have asked their older teammates for opinions about staying or leaving ...
"I am a little bit concerned," All-American defensive tackle Devon Still said. "But I know the players that we have now aren't going to let this program go down the drain. I think they've worked too hard for it.
"The biggest decision that this university is going to have to make is who they're going to appoint as the head coach," Still said. "The faster they do that, the faster this team and this program can go back to where it used to be."
What would've been a pressure-packed coaching search anyway has turned into a monster due to its extended length, the lack of other coaching searches, and a coach making major moves on the other side of the conference.
Related: Jerry Sandusky fallout, replacing Joe Paterno, and Penn State's movement to support sexual abuse survivors. For more on the Nittany Lions, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries. More college football news.
Houston Cougars interim head coach Tony Levine is officially the man in charge, the school announced Wednesday. He'll take over for the departed Kevin Sumlin, who's prepping to lead Texas A&M into the SEC. Task one is the same as it was the day before: ready for the TicketCity Bowl against the Penn St. Nittany Lions.
In a statement, athletic director Mack Rhoades gushed about his new coach:
"I'm so pleased to be able to announce Tony Levine as our new head coach," Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades said. "Before we began this process we talked about the characteristics we wanted in the leader of our football program and Tony embodies each of those qualities. We spoke with former players, current student-athletes and interviewed some of the top football coaches in the country, and all of our talks led us right back to Tony.
"We consistently talk about building a program and building upon our culture here at UH and when you have the perfect fit right here on staff, you feel fortunate. But we still wanted to do our due diligence. We talked to some great folks, some people that are already outstanding Division I head coaches, but the best fit for UH is Tony Levine."
Levine has been an assistant at UH for four years, becoming assistant head coach two years ago. He's also been running the special teams and coaching tight ends. Previous stops have landed him at Louisville and Louisiana Tech, with a Carolina Panthers gig in there too.
Levine on his new job:
"I'm both humbled and excited to have this opportunity to lead the Houston Football program and continue my work with our student-athletes and staff," Levine said. "This is a dream come true for me and my family. We love Houston and I'm proud to say that Houston is our home. When you have the opportunity to lead a program, it has to be more than a job. Houston is a destination spot. Continuing to build this program is a personal challenge because this place means so much to us. We have new facilities on the horizon, we are heading into an AQ (Automatic Qualifying) conference, we have the vision and leadership of Mack Rhoades and President Khator and we have the best fans and student support in America. That's why Houston is so special."
For more on all the coaching moves thus far, here's SB Nation's 2011 College Football Coaching Carousel Tracker.
Penn St. Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin has not yet been cleared to practice after suffering an injury in a post-practice fight with wide receiver Curtis Drake, coach Tom Bradley said during his Monday press conference.
Campus police are investigating the fight, during which McGloin reportedly was either knocked unconscious or went into seizure. He was taken to a hospital and released. His status for the team's upcoming TicketCity Bowl game against the Houston Cougars is obviously undetermined.
Bradley also said Shane McGregor won't take first team snaps for the time being, which should be good news, in a roundabout way. PSU's quarterback situation appeared to be quite unsettled after finding some stability in McGloin, with backup Rob Bolden reportedly facing "minor" legal trouble, but "minor" legal trouble isn't usually enough to keep quarterbacks out of bowl games.
The Penn State interim coach said Bolden will be punished internally.
Penn State's having a bit of quarterback trouble all of a sudden, according to reports.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin seems to have gotten the worst of a reported post-practice fight.
The 2011 TicketCity Bowl is sponsored by TicketCity, an Internet-based ticket vender not far removed from a number of big-name rivals. Guess where it's possible to get tickets to the 2011 TicketCity Bowl for less than face value?
As pointed out by Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel on Twitter, the TicketCity Bowl is selling tickets from its official bowl website to the game, featuring Penn State taking on one-loss Houston at the Cotton Bowl, for $25, $50, $75, and $125. But check out TicketCity's listings for the TicketCity Bowl, and things get significantly cheaper: there are a few of the cheapest $25 tickets for a few dollars off, but many more of the more expensive ones are more deeply discounted below face value, like a $75 "premium" ticket going for just $31.
That's not necessarily a bad thing — it means TicketCity is doing its job, even if it decided to attach its name to a rather cold product — but it certainly is amusing.
Kevin Sumlin is gone, and now Houston must look for a new head coach for the first time since 2007. Here's SB Nation's 2011 College Football Coaching Carousel Tracker.
The Texas A&M Aggies are finally, actually, for real hiring Houston Cougars head coach Kevin Sumlin to replace Mike Sherman. Houston's athletic director, Mack Rhoades, confirmed as such Saturday evening, naming Tony Levine the interim coach.
@skhanjr Sam Khan Jr.: Rhoades joked on Sumlin taking assistants: "I told him he couldn't take any."
Sumlin has been the presumed next A&M coach for quite some time now, but the Aggies reportedly felt like undertaking a side quest in an effort to swipe Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt. The UGA coach's agent certainly appreciates the venture.
Going 35-17 at UH and nearly reaching the BCS, Sumlin now becomes the first African-American head coach at a major Texas program and A&M's first-ever SEC head coach. Expect A&M to officially announce him shortly.
The 2012 TicketCity Bowl features a match up between the Houston Cougars and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State has been toiled in controversy for the past few weeks because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the firing of long-time legendary head coach Joe Paterno, but the football team still fought on and made it to the Big Ten title game, in which they lost. The Lions will look to put the tumultuous 2011 season behind them in the new year.
The Houston Cougars season was disappointing for another reason, in the sense that they dropped their first loss of the season last week to Southern Miss in the Conference-USA championship game. Quarterback Case Keenum was breaking record after record, but all the BCS momentum the Cougars were building hit a brick wall with the loss. They'll take their high-flying offense against one of the better defenses in all of college football.
At a quick glance, the TicketCity Bowl matchup between Houston and Penn State looks pretty interesting. You've got that whole big-conference vs. small-conference thing, as well as a matchup between the nation's top offense and one of the top defenses on Jan. 2 being played in one of the more historic college football venues.
The problem, though, is that motivation could be a significant issue on both sides. This is not the bowl game either team was hoping to play in, as this is a far cry from the Cotton Bowl, even if that's where it is played.
This game is being contested for just the second time and is basically a replacement for the actual Cotton Bowl Classic, which moved to Cowboys Stadium. While this game may be played in a stadium by that name, it really is much farther away than the 21-mile distance would suggest. For starters, the payout of this game is just $1.2 million, while the Cotton Bowl Classic has a purse of $7.25 million.
Point being, players may dream of playing in the Cotton Bowl, but they don't really dream about playing at the Cotton Bowl anymore. That goes doubly for this pair of teams.
For Houston (12-1), the disappointment was perhaps even more significant. Heading into the Conference USA championship game, the Cougars were undefeated, ranked No. 6 and had somewhat reasonable hopes of crashing the BCS party. A win over then No. 24 Southern Miss probably would have done the trick. Instead, they lost 49-28 against the only ranked team they played all year. To make the situation more complicated, head coach Kevin Sumlin has been linked to just about every coaching vacancy out there.
Penn State may actually be somewhat relieved to be playing in a less prestigious bowl game after the year they've gone through. The Nittany Lions (9-3) season has, of course, been overshadowed by the political and legal drama that has surrounded former coach Jerry Sandusky. They had started out the season 8-1 and also had hopes of playing in a BCS game.
Assuming these teams can get themselves prepared, though, this could be a fun game. The Cougars were easily the top offense in the country, averaging more than 500 yards and 50 points per game. Quarterback Case Keenum tossed 45 touchdowns and threw for 5,099 yards; wide receiver Patrick Edwards already has 1,524 receiving yards and has scored 15 touchdowns; and running back Charles Sims averages 7.5 yards per carry.
The Nittany Lions will easily be the best defense they've played though. Penn State has allowed the fifth fewest points per game (15.1) and the 10th fewest yards per game (300.9). They are especially good against the pass, allowing opponents a QB rating of 100.0, fifth best in the nation. Defensive lineman Devon Still has 19 tackles for a loss, the 14th best total in the nation.
This will be the third-ever encounter between these two teams. Penn State won both previous games, but the most recent was in 1977.
Welp, they say styles make fights. The Penn St. Nittany Lions and Houston Cougars certainly have different styles -- one leads the nation in scoring, the other ranks 109th. We'll leave you to decipher which is which.
The TicketCity Bowl doesn't have much history to it yet; it only had its inaugural game on Jan. 1, 2011. This game took over the actual Cotton Bowl stadium when that bowl game went to the fancy Cowboys Stadium. In the first game, the Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, 45-38.
While a Big 12 team participated in the first TicketCity Bowl game, Conference USA is now the other tie-in team with the Big Ten.
Game date, time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Location: Cotton Bowl, Fair Park, Dallas, Tx.
TV channel: ESPNU
2010 winner and loser: Texas Tech def. Northwestern, 45-38
The Penn St. Nittany Lions will wind up with a bid to the 2012 TicketCity Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the bowl's CEO has announced. That's the Big Ten's second-lowest bowl affiliate. They'll square off against a Conference USA opponent, which could be Houston or Southern Miss.
@rmusselmanppg TicketCity Bowl CEO Tom Starr tells the Post-Gazette: "We'd love to have Penn State; we'd be honored." Likely opponent Jan. 2 is Houston.
The Jerry Sandusky plague is going to loom over Penn State football for quite a while. Despite finishing with the conference's fourth best record and boasting an enormous following, PSU offers a tarnished product at this point.
Game date, time: 12:00 p.m. ET, Jan. 2
Location: Cotton Bowl, Fair Park, Dallas, Tx.
TV channel: ESPNU
2010 winner and loser: Texas Tech def. Northwestern, 45-38
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