Rice Football hopes to return to the field this week, but Marshall will be one of their toughest tests yet. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Rice got tantalizingly close to kickoff last week against UTEP but saw the game postponed mere hours before the Owls and Miners were set to face off. The cancelation marks the third time in the last four weeks Rice did not play because of a COVID-19 issue from their opponent.
Marshall was off last weekend with a rare “scheduled” off weekend. Not accounting for rescheduling December games against Rice and FIU, Marshall played through the bulk of their expected regular season. Their last action came on Nov. 14, a win over Middle Tennessee. Their Nov. 21 game against Charlotte was postponed.
We’ll preview Rice football vs Marshall on Episode 64 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 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
Rice missed the opportunity to play a UTEP team that was winless in C-USA play. Instead, they’ll travel to the only unbeaten team in the conference. That swap, combined with other winnable divisional games previously postponed, leave Rice with an uphill battle as the scheduled winds down. If Rice wants to get back to .500, they’re going to have to beat one of C-USA’s best.
Marshall just needs to keep pace with their side of the conference in this game. The 7-0 Herd have a head-to-head win over FAU, but haven’t played Charlotte. With Conference USA opting not to schedule a game between Marshall and Charlotte (so far), all Marshall has to do is win to stay at the top of the pack with no divisional tiebreakers in play.
All Time | Marshall leads 5-2
Last Five | Marshall leads 4-1
Last Meeting | Home 2020, Marshall won 20-7
Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Collins – 53/86 (61.6 percent), 802 yards passing, 10 TD, 1 INT
Rushing | Otoviano – 45 carries, 195 yards (4.3 yards per carry) | Griffin – 41 carries, 159 yards (3.9 yards per carry)
Receiving | Trammell – 16 receptions, 335 yards (20.9 yards per reception), 6 TD | Myers – 14 receptions, 138 yards (9.9 yards per reception)
Tackles | Alldredge – 32, Montero – 23, Garcia – 19
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Calderon – 2 PBU / McCord – 1 INT
Marshall Stat Notables
Passing | Wells – 126/192 (65.7 percent), 1674 yards passing, 16 TD, 4 INT
Rushing | Knox – 148 carries, 744 yards (5.0 yards per carry), 9 TD
Receiving | Gaines – 22 receptions, 288 yards (13.1 yards per reception), 3 TD | Gammage – 23 receptions, 270 yards (11.7 yards per reception), 4 TD
Tackles | Beckett – 69, Neal – 43, Hodge – 31
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Gilmore – 6 PBU / Gilmore, Neal, Johnson, Drayton – 1 INT
Marshall X-Factor | Limit explosive plays
The Marshall defense might be the most formidable unit in C-USA and because of it, teams don’t score points in bunches against the Herd very often. Sustaining long drives isn’t easy to do against this defense. Rice has been able to piece together several 10+ play drives in their limited action so far this season, but something has to give.
Marshall has allowed three plays of 30 or more yards in four conference games, the best mark of any team in C-USA. They’re also the only C-USA team that hasn’t allowed a play of 50 or more yards against a conference opponent.
The Rice offense is more explosive than its been in the past, but they’re going to need a mix in some big gains to sustain those length drives they’ve become accustomed to. Marshall can’t let that happen.
Rice X-Factor | Win the line of scrimmage
Rice did not control the line of scrimmage against North Texas and the ramifications were severe. The Owls could not consistently move the ball on offense and saw a rather sturdy defense effort go to waste. The offensive line has shown they can push people around already this season, against Marshall they’ll have to be at their best.
If Rice can win in the trenches, they’ll set up their offense to control the pace of the game. That’s going to be paramount against a team that’s proven themselves to the degree that Marshall has. They’re ranked for a reason.
Expect to see Rice utilize full backs, tight ends and different packages to aid their line in this game. It doesn’t really matter how Rice finds a way to win this phase of the game. They just have to do it.
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 scores first?
Rice / Marshall
- How many points will Rice score?
Over 23.5 / Under 23.5
- Which total is higher?
Rice first downs / Marshall completions
- Which team has the longest run from scrimmage?
Rice / Marshall
- What will be the distance of the longest made field goal?
Over 39.5 yards / Under 39.5
- Who wins?
Rice / Marshall
One Final Thing
Rice was very vocal about not playing a game in West Virginia this week. Logistically, there are ample reasons Rice should be playing UTSA at Rice Stadium on Saturday rather than flying across the country to play a team outside of their own division.
Honestly, Conference USA followed the easiest course of action possible — adding a game between UAB and Middle Tennessee, simple because both were free — rather than addressing divisional matchups still to be played. All this could have been alleviated if C-USA hadn’t added games back midseason amid rising cancelations, but here we are.
No matter the circumstances, Rice has moved their focus solely to Marshall. It’s a tough task in already challenging conditions. All the more reason for the Owls to press on.