Big 12: Bryce Beall

Good fortune helps spark Houston's upset

September, 12, 2009

Posted by'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.”

Houston cashes good fortune to reclaim lead

September, 12, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Houston took advantage of two huge breaks to get a touchdown to reclaim the lead.

Case Keenum's fourth-down 6-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Beall enabled the Cougars to garner a 38-35 lead over Oklahoma State.

The scoring pass was tipped by Oklahoma State defensive end Ugo Chinasa before rebounding to Beall.

But an even bigger question appeared when television replays indicated Houston guard Chris Thompson was two yards past the line of scrimmage as the play transpired. As such, he should have been flagged for being downfield on the play.

Instead, the touchdown stood and the Cougars have reclaimed the lead.

Like I said a little earlier, I still think whoever has the ball last is going to win this game.

It will be interesting to see who it is.

OSU wearing out tiring Cougars

September, 12, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State's offensive line is taking control as strong protection has helped the Cowboys reclaim the lead.

Zac Robinson hooked up with Josh Cooper on a 22-yard TD pass that gave the Cowboys a 35-31 lead with 11:22 left in the game.

Robinson exploited the gasping Cougars as he hooked up with three other receivers other than Dez Bryant on the scoring drive.

Houston had taken the lead on the ensuing drive on a short 33-yard, seven-play scoring drive capped by a fourth-down 1-yard scoring plunge by Bryce Beall.

Now, it will be up to the Cowboys' defense to put the game away.

They've played better in the second half, but Houston quarterback Case Keenum has exploited the Cowboys.

Considering the way that both offenses and both defenses are playing, I'm getting the idea that the last team to have the ball might end up winning this wild game.

Five games to fear in the Big 12

July, 13, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

There are several obvious games that are already noticeable that should carry an extra bit of trepidation for Big 12 teams as they prepare for the upcoming season. Even with Big 12 teams likely to be solidly favored in these games, here are five games that should come with a warning label considering the opponent and the circumstances of the game.

North Dakota State at Iowa State, Sept. 3: Craig Bohl will have the Bison fired up for their game in Ames. And he knows a little bit about beating the Cyclones, considering his history as a defensive coordinator at Nebraska.

This game has all the marking of one to worry about for the Cyclones. It's Paul Rhoads' first game as a head coach. The Bison have been tough in other road games at FCS teams in recent seasons, losing by three points at Wyoming last season, beating Minnesota and Central Michigan on the road in 2007 and losing by one point at Minnesota and beating Ball State on the road in 2006. Even with the talent disparity, this game might be closer than expected.

Rhoads should ask Colorado coach Dan Hawkins how much losing to an FCS team in your first game at a Big 12 school can ruin your first season. That 2006 opening-game loss to Montana State was a particularly bad start for Hawkins' coaching tenure there.

Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12: This game is coming at a tricky time for Oklahoma State, which will be coming back for a second game after a huge emotional opener against Georgia the week before. The Cougars will have 5,000-yard passer Case Keenum along with 1,000-yard rusher Bryce Beall and 1,000-yard receiver Tyron Carrier among a group of 15 returning starters.

And not only do the Cougars return a lot of experience, but they also have a modicum of confidence against OSU. Houston led the Cowboys last season, 16-7, late in the first half before the Cowboys' offense blitzed them for four touchdowns in a span of barely 7½ minutes. If Houston can do a better job defensively this season, it could make Mike Gundy sweat against the preseason Conference USA West Division's favorites.

Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12: The trip to the Sun Bowl might be a little more harrowing than expected for the Jayhawks.

UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe threw for 33 touchdown passes and 3,274 yards last season. The Miners also surround him with 14 other returning starters. If Vittatoe can stay protected, he might be able to singe the Jayhawks' questionable linebacking corps and perhaps win a shootout. Stranger things have happened -- particularly playing in front of what should be a sellout crowd at the Sun Bowl.

And here's a statistic to keep in mind before the game: The Jayhawks have lost their last three true nonconference road games and haven't claimed a nonconference road game since winning at Wyoming in 2003. Their trip to El Paso won't be a picnic.

Wyoming at Colorado, Sept. 19: On paper, this looks like a game the Buffaloes should easily win. But a couple of trends might prove to benefit new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who will be playing his first road game.

Christensen was the offensive coordinator of a Missouri team that beat Colorado by a combined margin of 113-10 over the past two seasons, including a 58-0 victory last season. He won't have Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin or Chase Coffman in this game, but he still has confidence of being successful against Colorado's defense.

The Cowboys won at Tennessee last season so they aren't intimidated by hostile road environments. They have 17 starters back, including eight defensive players who will be facing Colorado's defense with some confidence after strong play late last season.

Colorado has a history of struggling as a big favorite in previous nonconference home games, winning by seven against Eastern Washington last season and losing at home to Montana State in Hawkins' first game in 2006. The signs point to this being a game where the Buffaloes potentially could struggle.

Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 25: This Friday night game will set up nicely for veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault and the Wolf Pack, who will showcase their program on national television in this game.

Nevada has the explosive Pistol offense keyed by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the returning Western Athletic Conference player of the year who will be looking to make a national name for himself with a big performance. Also back are 2008 WAC leading rusher Vai Taua and 2007 leading rusher Luke Lippincott, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the second game last year. And they'll be facing a retooled Missouri defense.

The Wolf Pack still remember a gadget pass for a touchdown by Missouri wide receiver Tommy Saunders when they were behind 45-17 midway through the third quarter of a game they eventually lost 69-17 in Columbia last season. Could revenge spur a better effort at home? It will be interesting to see if the Wolf Pack can similarly make the Tigers sweat in a game played at high altitude at Reno.