Rice football has been on the losing end against four talented teams, most of which are earning national attention. What does that tell us about the Owls?
The Week 5 polls are out. Rice football fans will recognize several names on the ballots. Three of the Owls first four opponents are ranked inside the Top 31 in both major polls (AP and Coaches). Rice took two of those teams to deep water, possessing the ball with the chance to tie (or win) the game in the fourth quarter against Army and Baylor.
Here’s how those teams have fared in their games this season:
3-1 Army (def Rice 14-7)
No. 7 Michigan (L, 24-21 OT), UTSA (W, 31-13), Morgan St (W, 52-21)
4-0 Wake Forest (def Rice 41-21)
Utah St (W, 38-35), North Carolina (W, 24-18), Elon (W, 49-7)
3-1 Texas (def Rice 48-13)
Louisiana Tech (45-14), No. 6 LSU (L, 45-38), Oklahoma St (W, 36-30)
3-0 Baylor (def Rice 21-13)
SFA (W, 56-17), UTSA (W, 63-14)
Collectively, in games against non-Rice opponents, the Owls’ four nonconference foes are 9-2. Their two losses have come to No. 7 Michigan in overtime and No. 6 LSU in a one-score game. For the most part, the Owls played their opponents, particularly against Army and Baylor.
Army average 314 rushing yards and 4.3 rushing touchdowns per game against non-Rice opponents. The Owls held them to 231 yards and one rushing score.
Wake Forest allowed more points to Rice than North Carolina, who was in the conversation to be ranked prior to their close loss to the Demon Deacons.
Texas equally overmatched the Owls and fellow conference foe Louisiana Tech, who Rice meets to start C-USA play this coming weekend. The Texas offense was just as explosive, if not more so, against No. 6 LSU who was expected to have one of the nation’s better defenses entering the season.
Baylor was the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense entering their game against Rice. The Owls shut the Bears out in the second half and held them to 21 total points. Baylor scored 21 or more points in eight of 12 games last season, falling under that mark to only ranked Texas, West Virginia and Iowa State teams and Gary Patterson’s stingy TCU defense.
Rice has no interest in losing well. But the level of competitiveness the Owls have demonstrated combined with the results their opponents have against other teams prove to be powerful data points. Yes, they’re 0-4, but they haven’t lost to bad teams, quite the contrary. Now it’s on the Owls to take the next step and turn positive momentum into tangible wins.
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