Rice Football took a pause for a bye week then began prep for its upcoming game against UTSA. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
The last time we saw Rice football take the field, they left as victors, defeating Southern Miss at home in their second consecutive win of the season after an 0-2 start. UTSA is also riding a winning streak, albeit a much longer one. The Roadrunners knocked off WKU in a thrilling affair on Saturday while Rice watched from afar. Now both teams are set to meet on the gridiron for the first time since 2019.
Kickoff time | 5:00 PM CT
Venue | Alamodome – San Antonio, TX
TV | ESPN+
Radio | Sports Map 94.1 (FM) / Stretch Internet (Online)
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs UTSA 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
As things currently stand, UTSA sits atop the West in a three-way tie with UAB and UTEP. Should the Roadrunner seek the most straightforward path towards a conference championship, keeping pace with UAB prior to their showdown with the Blazers in mid-November is an absolute must.
The Owls are one of five teams in C-USA West with unblemished conference records. The East, conversely, only has one program that can make such a claim, Charlotte. Staying among that company with a date against UAB looming the following weekend would position Rice extremely well for a darkhorse conference title run, and at the very least, get them within favorable striking distance of a bowl berth.
All Time | UTSA leads Rice 5-2
Last Five | UTSA leads 5-0
Last Meeting | Away 2019, UTSA won 31-27
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Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Constantine – 46/60 (76.7 percent), 543 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing | Myers – 53 carries, 251 yards (4.6 yards per carry)
Receiving | Bailey – 21 receptions, 232 yards (11.1 yds/rec), 1 TD / Patterson – 10 receptions, 207 yards (20.7 yds/rec), 1 TD
Tackles | Montero – 39 / Smith – 31 / Garcia – 28
Pass Breakups | Smith/Nyakwol/Dunbar – 3, McCord/Montero – 2
Interceptions | Nyakwol – 2, Five others tied with one
UTSA Stat Notables
Passing | Harris – 127/182 (69.8 percent), 1475 yards passing, 12 TD, 3 INT
Rushing | McCormick – 154 carries, 661 yards (4.3 yards per carry), 6 TD
Receiving | Cephus – 42 receptions, 457 yards (10.9 yards per reception), 3 TD / Franklin – 37 receptions, 447 yards (12.1 yds/rec), 4 TD
Tackles | Wisdom – 39 / Harmanson – 27 / Taylor – 25
Interceptions | Four tied with one apiece
Pass Breakups | Robinson – 4, Woolen/Brown – 3
UTSA X-Factor | Flying Frank Harris
Quarterback Frank Harris has had a circuitous path to the starting job at UTSA. Whether by injuries or inconsistency, he’s never held onto the job for very long at any one time. Until now. Harris is playing some of the best football of his career. He ranks second among C-USA passers in completion percentage, fourth in passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns.
Harris threw a career high six touchdown passes against Western Kentucky last time out. Unless this game turns into a similar shootout, reaching that high of a bar probably won’t be a must. But, Harris needs to continue to be efficient on third down and get the ball to his playmakers. If the Rice defense can slow down Sincere McCormick to any degree, it’s going to fall to Harris to carry the load.
Rice X-Factor | Win the line of scrimmage
The Owls’ most recent outing against Southern Miss was perhaps the most impressive showing they’ve had in the trenches on both sides of the ball so far this season. The defensive line forced copious amounts of pressure and the other side of the ball more than held their own, giving quarterback Jake Constantine plenty of time and room to maneuver.
It wasn’t a coincidence those strong outings up front led to one of the more complete games this team has posted this season. Now they have to prove they can do it again and improve on the consistency that has been missing at times thus far.
UTSA is more well-rounded and dangerous on both sides of the ball than Southern Miss is, but Rice has shown they have the ability to execute, be disciplined and win one-on-one battles. That starts up front. Sometimes it really is that simple.
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
This should be a great “measuring stick” game for Rice football. One way or another, everyone will know how close they are to the upper-echelon of Conference USA over the next two weeks (UAB is on deck). Winning at least one of these games would be a definitive step forward from where this program has been in years prior, and having a healthy enough roster to go toe-to-toe with an undefeated UTSA squad should give as good of a shot as they could have asked for this season.
The past two weeks really felt like must-win games for this team. This one doesn’t have that same level of direness to it, but the opportunity present is undeniable. It’s a big game for Rice, which was unable to turn things around at the Alamodome in 2019. How poetic a season to continue an upward ascent than this? Rather than returning to ashes, this could really be an opportunity for the Owls to take flight.
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