Rice football is due for a change of fortune with turnovers. After four years of a negative turnover margin, the ball should bounce more favorably in 2019.
For the fourth year in a row, Rice football finished with a negative turnover margin. The Owls handle on the football was inconsistent, committing 23 turnovers over the course of 13 games. The defense did their part, recovering 11 fumbles and snagging eight interceptions. The Owls’ 19 turnovers forced ranked in the middle of the pack among their conference peers. The 23 lost was third from the most.
As unfortunate as the Owls’ turnover woes were in 2018, it could be one of the most correctable facets of the team’s statistical profile. While talent and execution play a significant role in turnover production, it remains one of the most random events in football. Luck, in the form of favorable bounces and fortunate positioning play as much of a role in forcing turnovers (and committing them) as anything else.
Over the past five seasons, only one Conference USA team has posted a negative turnover margin in each year: Southern Miss. Three of those seasons the Golden Eagles finished with a turnover margin of -1. Conversely, Louisiana Tech is the only school to post a positive turnover margin five years in a row. They were +1 in two of those seasons.
UTEP, who had the worst margin in CUSA last season at -17, posted a +9 mark as recently as 2014. That would have been tied for the best margin in the conference in 2018. Turnovers are fluky, and that’s something which should swing back in the Owls favor in 2019.
Five straight years on either side of the ledger are uncommon. The odds will level out.