Rice Football returns home to take on Texas Southern in Week 4, still in search of their first win of the season. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Week 4 will pit a pair of winless teams against each other in the first ever meeting between intra-city foes. Rice football hosts Texas Southern on Saturday, hoping to bounce back from a deflating shutout loss to Texas the week prior. Texas Southern enters equally beleaguered, having been outscored 106 to 24 in back-to-back losses to Prairie View and Baylor before having last weekend off.
Kickoff time | 5:30 PM CT
Venue | Rice Stadium – Houston, TX
TV | ESPN3
Radio | Sports Map 94.1 (FM) / Stretch Internet (Online)
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs Texas Southern this week’s episode of the Blue and Gray Preview Show, streaming live on Wednesday at Noon on the Rice Athletics YouTube channel. You can also catch the recap of last week’s game on The Roost Podcast, which should be released shortly. 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
It’s put up or shut up time for Rice football. After three back-breaking losses, the Owls cannot afford to fall to 0-4. The pressure is on Rice, who will enter the contest as the favorites.
Texas Southern hasn’t faired any better than Rice. Their lone win since the 2018 season came by way of a forfeit in an abbreviated spring season. A win over an FBS team would be huge for head coach Clarence McKinney and his staff.
All Time | Rice and Texas Southern will be meeting for the first time
Last Five | n/a
Last Meeting | n/a
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Rice Stat Notables
Passing | McCaffrey – 16/32 (50.0 percent), 181 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing | Griffin – 39 carries, 173 yards (4.4 yards per carry)
Receiving | Myers – 11 receptions, 71 yards (6.5 yards per reception), 1 TD / Bailey – 9 receptions, 85 yards (9.4 yds/rec)
Tackles | Montero – 27 / Smith – 20/ Garcia – 18
Pass Breakups | Smith/McCord/Dunbar – 2
Interceptions | Fresch/Taylor – 1
Texas Southern Stat Notables
Passing | Brown – 27/53 (50.9 percent), 277 yards passing, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing | Howard – 15 carries, 79 yards (5.3 yards per carry), 0 TD
Receiving | Davis – 9 receptions, 124 yards (13.4 yards per reception), 0 TD / Johnson – 7 receptions, 80 yards (11.4 yds/rec), 1 TD
Tackles | Cooper – 13 / Walton – 12 / Gibbs – 9
Interceptions | Marcantel -1
Pass Breakups | Six tied with one PBU
Texas Southern X-Factor | Make the big play
The formula to stymy Rice has focused on the big play. Arkansas gashed the Owls on the ground with their 245-pound quarterback. Texas let running back Bijan Robinson have their way with the Rice defense before getting other playmakers in open space for breakaway touchdown sprints.
There has been a handful of methodical, 10+ play drives against Rice this year. But the Owls have proven most susceptible when their opponents can cut the field in half with one or two big plays. If Texas Southern wants to make this interesting, they’ll need to hit on some home runs.
Rice X-Factor | Come prepared
In each of their first three games, the Rice offense has failed to take advantage of opportunities gifted to them by their opponents and/or their own defense. Three missed field goals, six interceptions, dropped passes and missed assignments. At this point, the offense doesn’t need to move heaven and earth. They need to do the basics correctly.
Against Texas Southern, the basics, when executed correctly, should be more than enough to set Rice up for success. And if Rice can’t clean up the little things, it’s going to be a long season when conference play arrives in two weeks.
Pick ‘Em Contest (Subscribers only)
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Injury Report (Subscribers only)
The Roost’s 2021 Rice Football Season Preview has FIVE pages dedicated to every opponent the Owls face. There are depth charts, important new arrivals and positional breakdowns for every team in Conference USA sourced from local beat writers and sources on the ground who cover these teams every day. It’s the most thorough C-USA publication on the market.
One Final Thing
The last time Rice football lost three consecutive games happened in the middle of the 2019 season. The Owls dropped successive contests to UTSA, Southern Miss and Marshall with the point totals falling from game to game, averaging 13.3 points over that stretch.
Then the offense woke up, and the team went on a run. Rice beat Middle Tennessee, North Texas and UTEP, and averaged 27 points per game in the process.
That recent history is not necessarily prescriptive of what is to come, but it has to serve as some evidence that given enough of a hole to dig out of, this program has shown it can rise again. Doing it consistently is a bar they’ve yet to achieve, but getting back into the win column and doing it a few times is well within reach.
But at this point, those are all hypotheticals. The Owls are going to have to show they still believe in themselves and what they’re playing for. It’s well past time to play ball.
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