Fresh off their first win, Rice football returns to Houston in Week 10 to face UTSA. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Rice football bounced back (bad pun intended) from a rough loss to Middle Tennessee with an emphatic win over Southern Miss on the road. The victory marked the first over Southern Miss in Hattiesburg since 2014 and put the Owls back into the think of the C-USA West standings.
UTSA had a less-than-stellar week, falling to FAU on the road and failing to get into the endzone. After winning their first three, the Roadrunners have dropped four of their last five contests.
We’ll preview Rice football vs UTSA on Episode 59 of The Roost Podcast which will be released on Thursday. 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.)
Make sure you check out Inside the Hedges, a weekly show with myself and former Rice football quarterback Taylor McHargue. Watch it live on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. here or watch it at your leisure on the Rice Athletics Youtube page.
Join the Conversation
What are your keys to victory this week? What pitfalls must the Owls avoid? Did you like that third down call? Share your thoughts on the matchup on the forum and make sure you tune in Saturday for our live game blog keeping track of every score and key moment.
Sizing up the contenders
A Rice win would push the Owls’ record to 2-1 and tie them for UAB for the top spot in the West, keeping them at least one game in front of Louisiana Tech in the loss column. After a long wait to start the season and a heartbreaking opening loss, Rice could control their own destiny once again.
UTSA is on the verge of losing all the momentum they had from their fast start, making a win over a surging Rice squad imperative for the Roadrunners. A win would be the first C-USA road victory for new head coach Jeff Traylor.
All Time | UTSA leads 5-3
Last Five | UTSA leads 5-0
Last Meeting | Away 2019, UTSA won 31-27
Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Collins – 30/52 (57.7 percent), 475 yards passing, 8 TD, 1 INT
Rushing | Otoviano – 45 carries, 195 yards (4.3 yards per carry)
Receiving | Trammell – 10 receptions, 219 yards (21.9 yards per reception), 5 TD | Bailey – 5 receptions, 67 yards (13.4 yards per reception), 1 TD
Tackles | Alldredge – 21, Montero – 17, Garcia – 13
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Devones – 1 PBU / McCord – 1 INT
UTSA Stat Notables
Passing | Harris – 93/160 (58.1), 895 yards passing, 4 TD, 4 INT
Rushing | McCormick – 171 carries, 921 yards (5.4 yards per carry), 7 TD
Receiving | Cephus – 40 receptions, 386 yards (9.6 yards per reception), 3 TD | Franklin – 32 receptions, 390 yards (12.2 yards per reception), 4 TD
Tackles | Wisdom – 63, Ligan – 52, Harmanson – 49
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Mayfield – 6 PBU / Wisdom – 2 INT
UTSA X-Factor | Keep Rice honest
Rice knows UTSA is going to attempt to pound the rock with Sincere McCormick, and winning on the ground would be huge for the Roadrunners’ chances, but connecting on explosive plays through the air could be the determining factor.
Frank Harris might not be an elite downfield passer, but Rice has allowed chunk plays through the air in each of their first two games. His ability to find pockets in the secondary will keep Rice from loading the box to stop McCormick. No passing threat, no reason to leave themselves vulnerable to the most explosive player on the UTSA offense.
UTSA is going to need to hit some deep shots. If they don’t, it’s going to be hard to keep the offense on the field and score with any level of consistency.
Rice X-Factor | Stop Sincere
UTSA is 3-1 when running back Sincere McCormick scores a touchdown this season. They’re 2-0 when he rushes for more than 150 yards, a feat he’s achieved twice. When he touches the football at least 23 times, UTSA is a perfect 3-0.
It really is that simple. If Rice can limit McCormick, they shut down the UTSA offense. Rice has been stingy on the ground through its first two games.
Middle Tennessee running back Chaton Mobley averaged 2.4 yards per carry and dual-threat quarterback Asher Ohara averaged 3.1, reaching 71 rushing yards including overtime. Southern Miss’ lead back Frank Gore Jr. had 71 yards on 11 carries, but was kept in check by the lopsided score and held in check for most of the game.
Injury Report (Subscribers only)
The Roost’s 2020 Rice Football Season Preview has four pages dedicated to every opponent the Owls face. There are depth charts, important new arrivals and depth chart breakdowns for every team in Conference USA. 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.
- Which team has more rushing yards?
Rice / UTSA (or tie)
- What will be the combined point total?
Over 49.5 / Under 49.5
- Will Rice commit more than four accepted penalties?
Yes / No
- Will either team score on defense or special teams?
Yes / No
- Who leads at halftime?
Rice / UTSA
- Who wins?
Rice / UTSA
One Final Thing
The narrative of a single season doesn’t often hang on a single game, but the Owls’ shortened 2020 campaign feels like it’s hit the highs and the lows of the emotional roller coaster through two weeks. Is the team as good as they looked against Southern Miss or are the issues showcased in the loss to Middle Tennessee too much to overcome with consistency? Another game will give us some answers.
It’s going to be hard not to react to either extreme. A win would put Rice (at least mathematically) tied atop the C-USA West standings with one fewer loss than Louisiana Tech, should the Bulldogs win. A loss would put Rice closer to the bottom half of the division in a home game where they’ll most likely be favorites to win.
Either way, the repercussions from this game in what is currently a six-game season, will carry weight. The Owls control their own destiny. All they have to do now is execute.