Rice Football is soaring after a landmark victory over Marshall. Can they finish strong and beat UAB? How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Down their starting quarterback, starting running back, top wide receiver and a few starters on defense, Rice football walked into Huntington, WV last weekend and bludgeoned No. 15 Marshall in their own building. The resounding 20-0 win has Rice riding high entering their last scheduled game of an up-and-down 2020 season.
UAB just wants to play a football game. They’ve been idle since Halloween, following four cancelations. Their last time out they lost a nailbiter to Louisiana Tech in double overtime.
Kickoff time | 12:00 PM CT
Venue | Rice Stadium – Houston, TX
TV | ESPN3 (Streaming)
Radio | Sports Map 94.1 (FM) / Stretch Internet (Online)
We’ll preview Rice football vs UAB on Episode 66 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
This game has a lot riding on it for both parties. Fresh off their upset over Marshall, Rice football can clinch a winning record (3-2) with a win in what is likely to be their regular season finale. Going from 3-9 to 3-2 in the midst of a pandemic with a signature win would be definitive evidence the program is on the rise.
For UAB, the win would put them even with Rice at three wins, but more importantly, give them claim to the Conference USA West Division Title. As far as the tiebreakers stand right now, a 3-1 UAB would get in over a 5-2 UTSA based on winning percentage. With a loss, the Blazers fall to 2-2 and would finish behind Rice in the conference standings.
All Time | UAB leads 5-3
Last Five | UAB leads 3-2
Last Meeting | Away 2020, UAB won 35-20
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 – 58 carries, 215 yards (3.7 yards per carry)
Receiving | Trammell – 16 receptions, 335 yards (20.9 yards per reception), 6 TD | Myers – 15 receptions, 147 yards (9.8 yards per reception)
Tackles | Alldredge – 42, Montero – 23, Garcia – 23
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Calderon – 2 PBU / Six players tied with 1 INT
UAB Stat Notables
Passing | Lucero – 79/146 (54.1 percent), 969 yards passing, 7 TD, 8 INT
Rushing | Brown – 156 carries, 740 yards (4.7 yards per carry), 10 TD
Receiving | Watkins – 34 receptions, 468 yards (13.8 yards per reception), 3 TD | Mitchell – 26 receptions, 360 yards (13.8 yards per reception), 2 TD
Tackles | Moll – 47, Wilder – 42, Boler – 33
Pass Breakups/Interceptions | Marshall, Miller – 3 PBU / Six tied with one interception
UAB X-Factor | Take care of the football
Notwithstanding any rust they might have accrued over month long wait, holding onto the football will be paramount for the Blazers this Saturday. UAB is minus-three in turnover margin this year, but they’re carelessness with the football was significantly worse over the second half of their games compared to their start.
UAB committed four turnovers in their first three games, forcing six of their own for a plus-two margin. In their last four games, which includes all three of their C-USA contests, the Blazers have committed 11 turnovers while forcing just six of their own. They’re 2-2 over that stretch.
Rice just showcased what happens when opposing teams hand them extra mistakes and the Owls probably left points on the board against Marshall. UAB can’t afford to be sloppy.
Rice X-Factor | Win on third downs
For all the Owls did right in their upset of Marshall, they didn’t fair well on third down Rice converted 5-of-13 attempts, with their first successful conversion not occurring until the final two minutes of the first half. A fourth down conversion and a defensive touchdown helped them put enough points on the board, but the Owls’ base their success on being able to stay on the field and control the clock.
In 2019, Rice was 3-2 when converting at least 42% of their third down attempts. They’re 1-0 this year, representing their win over Southern Miss in which they converted 9-of-15 third downs (60 percent).
The offense has the potential to be significantly better, no matter what skill players take the field, if they can manage to extend drives. Converting on a few more third downs will ensure that happens.
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.
- How many turnovers will the Rice defense force?
One or fewer / Two or more
- How many yards will the longest Rice scoring drive be?
Over 59.5 / Under 59.5
- Will there be a fourth down conversion by either team?
Yes / No
- Which team completes more passes?
Rice / UAB (or tie)
- Which teams score in the first quarter?
Only Rice / Only UAB / Both teams score
- Who wins?
Rice / UAB
- Bonus (3 pts)
How many points does Rice score? (Must be exact)
One Final Thing
To some extent, it feels like Rice is playing with house money in this game. As long as they show up and put forth a respectable performance against the defending C-USA West Champions, the Owls will have done enough this season to prove they’re heading in the right direction.
But, if they do win, the ripple effect would be massive. A win against UAB would secure a 3-2 record, including wins over the two teams considered to be the best in the conference entering the year. They’d be one bad loss (North Texas) or one weird bounce (Middle Tennessee) away from outright clinching the West division, a 4-1 record would have been enough.
Way back when this was expected to be a normal 12-game season, going to a bowl game was the expectation. Coming one win away from playing in the conference championship game would have been widely considered a step beyond that. That’s what’s on the table for Rice against UAB.
- The Roost Podcast | Ep 83 – Realignment and Rice Football with Shehan Jeyarajah
- Olympian Ariana Ince, a fitting ambassador of Rice Athletics, on and off the field
- Rice Baseball: 2021 MiLB Owls mid-July update
- Conference USA Football Media Days 2021: Live Blog