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Case Keenum makes last game memorable

DALLAS -- Case Keenum wanted to savor his last moments in a Houston uniform. So after throwing for 532 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 30-14 win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl, Keenum was racing around the Cotton Bowl turf.

Well, bouncing is more accurate. Keenum didn't look like a guy that had played four quarters of football. He did an interview with ESPNU, raced over to celebrate with his team and hoist the trophy as the game's MVP and then bounded for the stands.

But before he could get there, 28-year-old Javi Delafuente stopped him and ask him to autograph the back of his Houston Frontierman coat.

"I just graduated two weeks ago and this is in for me," Delafuente said. "It's been a great experience and he's part of that. He's everything a college athlete should be. It's good to see good things happen to good people."

Keenum smiled and then ran up the stairs to cheers from the Houston band. He grabbed some drumsticks and played the drums for a little while and then marched up the ladder, conducting the band for the fight song. And he wasn't done. He came back to the field, grabbed a megaphone and helped lead a few cheers. It was clear he was having fun.

And why not? Keenum finished off his stellar career in style. Against a Penn State defense that allowed 162 yards of passing per game on average, Keenum collected 227 yards in the first quarter. He just kept going. Keenum had 380 yards at the half and finished the game 45-for-69 with 532 passing yards and three touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception.

It was the sixth time he's passed for at least 500 yards in his career and caps a tenure that saw him rack up an NCAA-record 18,685 yards heading into today's game. He also set marks, before today, for: total offense (19,572), touchdown passes (152), total touchdowns (175), completions (1,501) and 300-yard games (38).

New Houston coach Tony Levine pulled Keenum aside for a quick chat after the game.

"I just thanked him for everything he's done for this program and everything he's meant to this team," Levine said.

The Cougars had only 16 rushing attempts (for 83 yards) against the Nittany Lions, opting to fling the ball all over the place as usual. Keenum felt that the opening drive, a 76-yarder that took less than two minutes, set an important tone.

"I think that was big, especially in bowl games where you take a lot of time off to get things rolling early, it's really important," Keenum said. "It's tough to do that when you're playing in January. It's been about a month off."

Keenum found Patrick Edwards for two big plays on that drive. Edwards had 228 yards receiving on 10 catches, including two touchdown passes. And he got to see his quarterback perform well one final time. For Keenum, this means the beginning of thinking fully about the next level. He was asked about his chances in the NFL.

"I rate my chances good," Keenum said. "I'm very confident in my abilities. I've been playing this game for a long time. I'm not going to change who I am. I'm going to play my game, but I feel really good. I've definitely been blessed and that door hasn't closed yet, that I haven't played my last football game. I'm excited about my future and what it holds."

But on Monday, he was just glad to see his team get to 13-1 and said he hopes they can finish in the top-15 of the final rankings.

"It was just an awesome game," Keenum said. "I'll remember this forever. I know all the guys will. I couldn't think of a better way to go out."