HOUSTON — Houston lost much more than a game in Saturday’s Conference USA championship.
Austin Davis threw four touchdown passes and No. 24 Southern Mississippi ruined Houston’s perfect season and Bowl Championship Series hopes with a 49-28 victory over the seventh-ranked Cougars.
It was star quarterback Case Keenum’s last home game for Houston for sure, and could’ve also been the finale for coach Kevin Sumlin, who’s mentioned as a top candidate for virtually every higher-profile job opening.
Sumlin shot down a media report that he’ll soon become the coach at Texas A&M, which fired Mike Sherman only two days ago.
“That is not true,” Sumlin said. “I said a few weeks ago I wasn’t going to talk to anybody, period, during the football season. Many of the things that have been reported have been found out to be false already.
“I haven’t talked to anybody,” he said. “I haven’t said anything to anybody about it.”
On a grander scale, the Cougars (12-1) blew their big chance to impress a national-television audience.
Instead, the Golden Eagles (11-2) turned it into their showcase, shackling Houston’s high-powered offense and striking with several big plays of their own to win their first league title and reach 11 victories for the first time.
“Everybody thought Houston was just going to walk away with this thing,” Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. “So our guys obviously took objection to that. They had something to prove. ”
Southern Miss won the C-USA championship for the first time, and the league for the fifth time overall.
The Golden Eagles became the first team to hold Houston, averaging more than 50 per game, below 35 points this season.
Keenum completed 41 of 67 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. He became the first quarterback to reach 5,000 yards passing in three seasons, one more record to tack onto his magnificent career.