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Saturday, September 12, 2009
Good fortune helps spark Houston's upset

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

AP Photo/Brody Schmidt
Houston quarterback Case Keenum got some bounces to go his way in an upset victory over Oklahoma State.

STILLWATER, Okla. –- Coming into the game, Houston quarterback Case Keenum was looking for any break he could find.

So when a teammate bragged in the locker room before the game that the Cougars wouldn’t need any luck to beat No. 5 Oklahoma State, Keenum told running back Bryce Beall that he would accept any good fortune.

“They were saying we wouldn’t need it,” Keenum said. “But I told Bryce I wouldn’t mind having a little luck.”

The premonition played out a few hours later when Beall and Keenum were involved in a play that helped propel them to a 45-35 victory over the Cowboys.

Beall snagged a tipped fourth-down pass from Keenum that ricocheted off the hands of Oklahoma State defensive end Ugo Chinasa. Keenum saw a wide-open James Cleveland flashing open in the back of the end zone. He fired it hard, hoping it would get to his receiver. But instead, in bounced high before resting in Beall’s hands for what would end up as the game-winning score.

“You’re sitting in your hotel thinking about game-winning situations and game-winning runs. But I never would have thought about a game-winning tipped pass,” Beall said, chuckling at the memory of his big play. “It was just fun to be a part of it.”

The Cougars added the clincher when Jamal Robinson returned an interception that glanced off Dez Bryant’s hands 26 yards for the score.

Two tipped passes. Two touchdowns. Added together, they helped spark the biggest stunner of the day.

But the Cougars’ victory over Oklahoma State wasn’t just a matter of good fortune. They jumped out on the Cowboys and claimed a 24-7 halftime lead. They were able to withstand 21-straight OSU points and briefly reclaimed the lead.

Houston players had enough gumption to put the game away because of the heady leadership of veteran players like Keenum and Beall.

Luck didn’t play a part in Keenum torching the Oklahoma State defense for 366 yards. Only a pair of turnovers deep in the Cowboys’ territory late in the first half kept them from blowing the game open even wider before the break.

“The question was where was our leadership going to come from on defense and special teams when there was about nine minutes of ‘Oh no!’ there,” Houston coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Fortunately, this year, we just had more depth.”

In the process, the Cougars were able to strike with a huge victory for the Houston program.

Jack Pardee was roaming the sidelines the last time the Cougars had claimed a victory over a top 10 team when they beat No. 10 Wyoming, 34-10, on Nov. 12, 1988. And it was Houston’s first win over a top-10 team on the road since Bill Yeoman defeated No. 3 Texas, 29-15, on Nov. 10, 1984.

“We’ve still got a whole bunch of football to go, but anytime you can go on the road and beat a top 10 team, it really helps your confidence as a program and it helps your pride as a university,” Sumlin said. “So from that standpoint, that’s more important to me than what’s happened in the last hundred years.”