Rice Football hosts Marshall on Homecoming weekend in search of the Owls first win. How to watch, stats to know, x-factor picks for both teams and more.
Both Marshall and Rice football experienced momentum-swinging moments in the fourth quarter of their most recent games. The Thundering Herd’s memories of Week 9 proved much more satisfying than the Owls.
Marshall watched a 17-point over Western Kentucky turn into a deadlocked 23-23 game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Not long after, a 53-yard field goal from Justin Rohrwasser sailed through the pipes to give Marshall the win.
Rice was on the other side of the final results. A fourth quarter interception snuffed out what might have been the game-tying touchdown drive as the Owls fell at home. With Homecoming weekend at hand, Rice hopes to crack the win column for the first time this season on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know about both Marshall and Rice before their Week 10 battle.
We’ll preview the Marshall game on Episode 15 of The Roost Podcast which will be released on Wednesday. Find us on the podcast page or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. (And consider leaving us a 5-star review while you’re at it.)
Sizing up the contenders
Rice has been handed their own ultimatum by head coach Mike Bloomgren. The offense has struggled mightily, having its upside muted by costly turnovers in crucial moments. To use his own words, “something will change.”
Marshall won’t be looking to make any sizable changes, rather the Thundering Herd need to focus on showing consistent effort on both sides of the ball for four quarters. It’s been a mixed bag for this squad, who’s good and bad sides can vary, not just from game to game, but quarter to quarter.
All Time | Marshall leads 4-2
Last Five | Marshall leads 3-2
Last Meeting | Away 2014, Marshall won 41-14
Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Stewart – 48/78 (61.5 percent), 532 yards passing, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing | Walter – 110 carries, 504 yards (4.6 yards per carry), 5 TD
Receiving | Rozner – 37 receptions, 524 yards (14.2 yards per reception), 2 TD | Trammell – 42 receptions, 524 yards (12.5 yards per reception), 2 TD
Tackles | Alldredge – 66, Montero – 50, Chamberlain – 46
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Thornton – 5 PBU, Smith – 2 INT
Marshall Stat Notables
Passing | Green – 134/228 (58.8), 1607 yards passing, 11 TD, 6 INT
Rushing | Knox – 137 carries, 803 yards (5.9 yards per carry), 7 TD
Receiving | Levias – 32 receptions, 346 yards (10.8 yards per reception), 3 TD
Tackles | Cobb – 70, Beckett – 69, Johnson – 51
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Jackson – 4 PBU, 5 tied with 1 INT
Marshall X-Factor | Quarterback Isaiah Green
It might be overly simplistic, but in many ways, Marshall goes the way of their quarterback Isaiah Green. When the sophomore signal caller is playing well, the offense moves and the Thundering Herd stay in games. When he’s not having a good day, the team hasn’t proven they have the resiliency to find other ways to score.
In Marshall’s five wins, Green has a 62.7 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. That’s a stark difference from his 52.3 percent completion percentage, one touchdown and four interceptions in Marshall’s three losses.
Getting his feet wet last season was important, but Green is still a young quarterback. And as Rice fans know all too well, young quarterbacks can be prone to mistakes. How locked in Green is against the Owls will go a long way to determining whether or not the Marshall offense is going to be able to find its rhythm.
Rice X-Factor | Turnovers
The losses against Southern Miss, UTSA and Louisiana Tech can be traced directly back to turnovers. In each of those games Rice had possession inside the redzone in a one-score game and left with no points. The Owls haven’t had field goal woes since senior Chris Barnes was inserted to handle the kicking duties. Self-inflicted wounds have been the problem.
Points have come at a premium in the past several weeks. Every scoring opportunity that ends without anything on the scoreboard is a massive blow to the team’s chances. Eliminating turnovers won’t guarantee victory, but it will give a significant boost to an offense that isn’t operating with much margin for error right now.
If the Rice defense can come away with some of their own — safety Naeem Smith has a takeaway in consecutive contests — a source of consternation could be a bright spot in the team’s first win.
The Owls have gotten more and more beat up as the season has progressed. Quarterback Tom Stewart’s back injury came as a complete surprise late Friday before the Southern Miss game. Center Brian Chaffin, Linebacker Anthony Ekpe, corner Andrew Bird and running back Aston Walter are a few names we’ll be watching closely this week.
The Roost’s 2019 Rice Football Season Preview has four pages dedicated to every opponent the Owls face. There are depth chart, important new arrivals and depth chart breakdowns for each foe. Better yet, it’s not just speculation, each profile was created with insight from local experts who cover those teams day in and day out. Pick up your copy today and get four pages and more than 1,000 words on every foe.
Pick ‘Em Contest
If you haven’t yet, make sure you submit your entry for The Roost’s weekly pick’em challenge. Choose an answer to each of the six questions below and submit them on the forum thread to enter.
- How many points will Rice score?
Over 16.5 / Under 16.5
- Will Rice convert more than 40 percent of their third down attempts?
Yes / No
- Which Rice running back has the longest run from scrimmage?
Otoviano / Booker / Walter / Other
- Will both teams intercept a pass?
Yes / No
- Who leads at halftime?
Rice / Marshall
- Who wins?
Rice / Marshall
One Final Thing
Rice football will utilize the bye week following the Marshall game to reassess and retool. Any and all recipes for improved offensive production will be installed during that time, but there’s still one more game to play before that break.
No matter the team or the odds, Rice has proven they’re adept enough on the defensive side of the ball to play Marshall tight well into the fourth quarter. If history is any indication, the Owls could very well find themselves in a similar situation on Saturday.
Like the previous several contests, this is a winnable game. What Rice does with this opportunity will go a long way to determining how drastic an overhaul is needed on offense and which pieces the team can build upon going forward. From the offensive line, to the quarterbacks and everything in between, Saturday will be an important test for the unit as a whole.