HOUSTON --The Raiders and Houston Texans are proof you can't beat the NFL for plot twists and turns.

Who would have figured in September that undrafted free agent quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Case Keenum would be facing off Sunday at Reliant Stadium in hopes of righting the sagging fortunes of their respective franchises?

McGloin became the starter when the Raiders (3-6) downgraded Terrelle Pryor from questionable to out moments before boarding a flight for Houston on Saturday. He becomes the 15th starting quarterback for the Raiders since Rich Gannon had a career-ending neck injury on Sept. 26, 2004.

The Raiders are 0-4 on the road and 1-11 since Dennis Allen became head coach, with the lone victory coming last season against a Kansas City Chiefs team that finished 2-14.

Houston, considered an AFC title contender in the preseason, is 2-7 after winning its first two games and turned to Keenum after mistake-prone starter Matt Schaub was injured, keeping the job when Schaub got healthy.

At Penn State, McGloin stayed with the program following the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, the ouster of coach Joe Paterno and heavy NCAA sanctions. He led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record and 6-2 mark in the Big Ten last season.

"They faced some challenges his senior year and some adversity they had to push through and overcome," Allen said. "That's probably helped him as far as his leadership ability and how to lead a group of men. He's a good character kid and I think he'll be prepared."


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Like McGloin in 2013, Keenum was not drafted in 2012 despite setting NCAA records for passing yards, completions and touchdown passes in the University of Houston's spread offense. The Raiders scouted Keenum, but like every other NFL team, didn't select him through seven rounds.

Keenum has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions since first appearing in Week 7 in a 17-16 loss to Kansas City.

"I thought he was a good player and had a lot of intangibles," Allen said. "He's probably not the biggest, strongest, fastest prototypical quarterback, but he's effective. He was effective in college and he's been effective in the NFL."

Allen, who is 6-7 in home games with the Raiders, is at a loss to explain the difficulties on the road.

Two of Oakland's better performances in the last two seasons came on the road, but both were losses -- 23-20 in Atlanta last season and 21-17 at Indianapolis in the 2013 season opener.

Others have been unsightly, most recently a 24-20 loss to the New York Giants that had team owner Mark Davis shaking his head when he entered the elevator following the game.

"It's not really a complicated process. There is no magic formula," Allen said.

In four road games this season, the Raiders lost decisively to Denver and Kansas City, with close losses to the Colts and Giants decided on late turnovers.

"It comes down to executing when the game's on the line," center Stefen Wisniewski said. "For whatever reason, we've done better at home than on the road."

Despite their record, the Texans rank ninth in the NFL in total offensive yardage (376.2 per game) and first in total defense (280.0). Their last three losses have come by a total of seven points.

A tumultuous season included head coach Gary Kubiak collapsing on the field Nov. 3 at halftime of an eventual loss to the Colts. Kubiak is expected to coach from the press box against the Raiders after defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over in a 27-24 loss to Arizona last week.

"I know how to explain it -- it's called turnovers and sloppy football," Kubiak said by conference call. "We've lost four games by a total of 10 points and the difference in those games is a play or two, a turnover or two ... if you dig deep enough you can find out why. Those rankings can fool people sometimes."

The Texans have elite players on both offense and defense, with wide receiver Andre Johnson (62 catches, 850 yards, five touchdowns) and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt at defensive end (61/2 sacks overall, two forced fumbles and recoveries last week).

  • The Raiders signed rookie quarterback Tyler Wilson to the 53-man roster to serve as McGloin's backup. The Raiders also waived defensive end Brian Sanford.

    For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at twitter.com/Jerrymcd.