No Case for Houston

Keenum and the Cougars have more in common with '07 Hawaii than '10 TCU

Updated: November 17, 2011, 10:21 AM ET
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders
Case KeenumThomas Campbell/US PresswireCase Keenum's offensive stats are impressive, but Houston's schedule and defense don't measure up.

We have clarity in the BCS standings. The losses last weekend by the previously unbeaten Boise State Broncos and Stanford Cardinal paved the way for a championship game everyone can agree on. The LSU Tigers and Oklahoma State Cowboys simply need to win out over the next few weeks, and the BCS title game will be secured. No other contenders will have a legitimate argument that they were denied an opportunity to win it all.

But wait a minute -- are we forgetting about the undefeated Houston Cougars? After all, the Cougars lead the nation in points per game (54.7) and have the nation's most prolific quarterback in Case Keenum, who has posted 37 touchdown passes against only three interceptions, 395 passing yards per game and a 74.2 completion percentage. Houston hasn't been held to fewer than seven touchdowns since Sept. 17. Houston has the fifth-best points-per-possession scoring margin in the nation (+2.1). Shouldn't Houston be part of the conversation?

The answer, simply, is no. We evaluate advanced stats for Football Outsiders that adjust for pace, garbage time and opponent strength in order to give context to the raw, eye-popping numbers that might otherwise cloud our judgment. And when evaluating the Cougars with these metrics it's clear that not only is Houston's body of work lacking in comparison to the AQ conference contenders this season, but it's lacking even in comparison with the non-AQ BCS teams of the recent past.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site,