Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/16/11

Unless you have lived under a rock this college football season, you realize that there is a football team in Texas that has run through its opponents with ease.

No, that team is not the Texas Longhorns – that team is the Houston Cougars. The catalyst is Case Keenum, but as Tom Franklin, the play-by-play voice of the Houston Cougars, told me in this edition of "Five Burning Questions," there is more than meets the eye with this football team. 

1) Is Case Keenum the best QB in the country? Should he win the Heisman?

You wouldn’t go wrong naming either Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore or Case Keenum as the best quarterback in the country. All have outstanding credentials. All are incredible talents. But having had the privilege of watching Keenum for his entire collegiate career, I would have to answer yes, as he has elevated his game to a new level here in 2011.

As for the Heisman Trophy, the honor is supposed to be presented to an individual who is the most outstanding football player.  Keenum has led his team to its first ever 10-0 start by completing over 74 percent of his passes for just under 4,000 yards with 37 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions in 376 attempts. He is second in passing efficiency, first in passing yards per game and first in points accounted for. I think that fits the bill as the most outstanding football player.

 

2) How do you feel about the potential move to the Big East by Houston?

There are just so many pluses that come to teams who are a part of any BCS conference. Every school who is not in a BCS conference is trying to do all they can to make themselves a worthy candidate for inclusion, and Houston is no exception. From a geographic standpoint, the Big 12 would make the most sense for Houston, as it includes several schools with which Houston has long standing rivalries with, and would be most accessible for its fans. But the Big East is the conference that has shown the most interest in Houston, and it too includes some schools with which they have a history. Plus, with Houston’s basketball program on the rise, joining the Big East with its rich basketball tradition can only help to foster its improvement

3) Kevin Sumlin has done wonders with Houston. Do you see the Cougars being able to keep him?

Kevin Sumlin was without question the right man at the right time for the Houston football program when he was hired in December 2007. He came with a vision of making Houston a perennial top-25 team and has laid a solid foundation for doing so. He has embraced the philosophy of Houston’s Hall of Fame coach Bill Yeoman by making it a priority to recruit and sign the top talent from the Greater Houston and southeast Texas areas. He had recruited this area for several years while he was an assistant coach, so he already knew the “lay of the land,” and high school coaches were already familiar with him, which helped to jump start that process. With plans in place and a significant amount of the money raised for a major facilities upgrade, in addition to a potential move to a BCS conference, I see no reason why this marriage between Sumlin and Houston cannot continue for several more years.

4)  Orange Bowl representatives took in the Houston game this past week. What will a BCS berth do for this program?

It would enable Houston to pick up even more momentum in their quest to become a nationally recognized program year in and year out. We have seen what it has done for similar schools, most notably Boise State and TCU, in recent years, and going to a BCS bowl game could make Houston the next school to move from being almost forgotten to one that is talked about on a week-to-week basis on the national scene. And, going to a BCS bowl game could provide a big assist with the school’s fundraising effort for their facilities upgrade.

5)  Who are some other players on Houston's roster who may get overlooked because of the exposure that Case Keenum is receiving?

There are several, as this is just not a one-man team, and Keenum would be the first to tell you that. He has outstanding receivers, including Patrick Edwards, who has become the first UH player to have three 1,000-yard receiving seasons. And he also is a dangerous punt returner. Also Tyron Carrier, who is the team’s all-time leader in pass receptions and is tied with Clemson’s C.J. Spiller with seven career kick returns for touchdowns. Defensively, linebacker Sammy Brown leads the nation in tackles for loss with 21.5, and is sixth in sacks. Linebacker Marcus McGraw is one tackle away from his fourth consecutive 100+ tackle season and is on pace to become the school’s all-time leading tackler.

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