The announcement that the University of Houston Head Football Coach Kevin Sumlin was accepting the Head Coaching job at Texas A&M next season seemed to do little to disrupt the potent Cougar offensive attack, as they jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead over Penn State in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl. The Game played Monday morning at the Cotton Bowl kicked off a huge day of Bowl action that included six postseason matchups on the day’s Bowl card.
After Houston Quarterback Case Keenum threw for two first quarter touchdown passes of 40 and 8 yards, it looked like it could be another long day for the Nittany Lions, but a nine play, 67 yard drive ending in a Stephon Green six yard TD run put the Nittany Lions on the board at 17-7. It did not take Keenum long, however, to stretch the lead out for the Cougars again, as he it receiver Patrick Edwards for a 75 yard touchdown pass with 1:43 left in the first half putting the Cougars up 24-7 at halftime. Houston ran the ball all of two times in the first half, so shoring up the pass defense was a must at halftime if Penn State wanted to stay close in the second half.
Penn State received the second half kickoff and after nine plays covering 36 yards, Nittany Lions quarterback, Rob Bolden, was intercepted by Houston’s Nick Saenz giving the ball back to Keenum and the Houston offense at their own five yard line. Though the Cougars did not score on that drive they were able to flip field position and eventually add a field goal on their second drive of the half to go up 27-7 with 4:21 left in the third quarter. With 2:38 left in the third, Bolden found Justin Brown for a 69 yard touchdown catch and run that gave the Nittany Lions hope heading into the fourth quarter trailing 27-14.
Houston opened up the scoring in the final frame with Matt Hogan’s third field goal of the contest pushing the Cougar lead back to 16 points, 30-14. That would turn out to be the final score of the game as Penn State was never able to sustain any type of offense in this one.
Keenum ended the game by throwing for a ridiculous 532 yards completing 45 of 69 pass attempts and three touchdowns. That effort was good enough to win player of the game honors for
Keenum. The win will give Cougar fans a better taste in their mouths after losing the Conference USA title game and a shot at a BCS Bowl. The 30-14 win over Big Ten Penn State puts a stamp on a stellar season for the Cougars.
The end of this season marks a whole new beginning for Penn State and their fans. The team, school and community must look forward now to life without legendary Head Coach Joe Paterno. The Nittany Lions have been in crisis mode for the last two months now. Although it will not be a quiet and uneventful offseason, it will be a nice break from the spotlight for a while in Happy Valley.