(The Sports Network) — Heisman hopeful Case Keenum threw for 279 yards and Bryce Beall and Michael Hayes each ran for three touchdowns as Houston thumped UTEP, 54-24, in the Conference USA opener for both teams.
Keenum completed 15-of-24 throws before leaving with an injury that brought his streak of throwing at least one touchdown pass to an end at 31 games for Houston (2-0, 1-0 C-USA), which avenged a 17-point loss in last season’s C-USA opener.
Beall rushed for a career-high 195 yards on 19 touches, while Hayes carried 17 times for 77 yards to pace a ground attack that churned out 308 yards for the Cougars, who won their school record 17th consecutive home game by racking up 656 yards of total offense.
Patrick Edwards caught six passes for 118 yards and James Cleveland made six grabs for 66 yards for Houston while Hayes added four catches for 75 yards.
Trevor Vittatoe connected on 30-of-54 throws for 340 yards and three TDs for the Miners (1-1, 0-1), who lost their conference opener for the first time since joining the league in 2005.
Houston scored on its first four possessions and five times in the first half in moving out to a 31-10 lead at the break. Three of the four touchdown drives took less than two minutes and none of the five scoring strikes took longer than 3:05.
UTEP played without its leading rusher Donald Buckram, who suited up but did not take the field after not practicing all week with an undisclosed injury. He ran for 262 yards in the Miners 58-41 win over the Cougars last season.
Joseph Banyard stepped in and rushed for 37 yards on 10 carries in his place. Kris Adams was the visitors leading receiver, hauling in seven passes for 114 yards in defeat.