Rice Football needs a bounce-back win in the worst way as they travel to Charlotte for a Week 10 tilt. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Both Charlotte and Rice football would rather forget their last trips to the gridiron. Charlotte was dismantled by Western Kentucky, falling on the road by a final score of 45-13. Rice played their opponent, North Texas, much closer, but an overtime loss was no more satisfying given the expectations they carried into the game. Both teams need a reset in the worst way. Here’s what you need to know:
Kickoff time | 2:30 PM CT
Venue | Jerry Richardson Stadium – Charlotte, NC
TV | ESPN+
Radio | Sports Map 94.1 (FM) / Stretch Internet (Online)
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs Charlotte 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
Charlotte and Rice each enter this game .500 in C-USA action with four more games to play. The winner is still probably on the outside looking in regarding a potential trip to the conference championship game, but the loser is in danger of tumbling even further down the standings.
Each program has flashed moments of success. Charlotte upset Duke earlier in the season. Rice knocked off UAB. Neither has been able to channel those everything-went-right games into the type of consistency they need to regularly win conference games so far. After being viewed as up-and-coming programs entering the 2020 season, this game has the potential to reinforce those aspirations or crush them, depending on who ends up on which side of the result.
All Time | Rice leads Charlotte, 2-0
Last Five | Rice leads Charlotte, 2-0
Last Meeting | Away 2016, Rice won 22-21
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Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Constantine – 65/96 (67.7 percent), 806 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Rushing | Myers – 82 carries, 316 yards (3.9 yards per carry), 7 TD
Receiving | Bailey – 39 receptions, 433 yards (11.1 yds/rec), 2 TD / Patterson – 20 receptions, 296 yards (14.8 yds/rec), 2 TD
Tackles | Montero – 54 / Smith – 44 / Garcia – 44
Pass Breakups | McCord/Dunbar – 5, Smith – 4
Interceptions | Smith/Nyakwol – 2, Four others tied with one
Charlotte Stat Notables
Passing | Reynolds – 127/192 (66.2 percent), 1537 yards passing, 16 TD, 5 INT
Rushing | Camp – 74 carries, 451 yards (6.1 yards per carry), 3 TD / Byrd – 92 carries, 375 yards (4.1 ypc), 1 TD
Receiving | DuBose – 37 receptions, 561 yards (15.2 yards per reception), 5 TD / Tucker – 40 receptions, 553 yards (13.8 yds/rec), 2 TD
Tackles | Murray – 55 / Watts – 45 / Alexander – 41
Interceptions | Alexander -2, Two tied with one apiece
Pass Breakups | Creamer – 4, Rogers – 3, Ursery – 3
Charlotte X-Factor | Take a few shots, and convert on them
Charlotte has one of the better “intermediate” offenses in Conference USA. The 49ers aren’t quite explosive — they’ve tallied six plays of 30+ yards against conference foes, tied for the second-fewest in Conference USA — but they have a knack for getting 10 yards, and they do it almost as well as anyone else in the league.
Charlotte’s 62 plays of 10+ yards rank third in Conference USA play. While they don’t hit home runs very often, they’ll nickel and dime defenses all the way down the field. If they do start producing players further down the field, the offense can get dangerous, quickly.
A veteran quarterback and two playmaking wide receivers have the ability to give the Rice defense all sorts of trouble. If they do, not only will they be ready to trade punches with the Owls, they might be able to deliver a few knockout blows of their own.
Rice X-Factor | Jake Constantine
Constantine hasn’t been perfect this season, but he’s been a key piece in two of the Owls’ three wins this year. He rallied the team last week, showing off some schoolyard improvisation skills to will the team down the field and force overtime.
With Wiley Green likely to miss extended time after suffering an ankle injury last week and the running game struggling to get going this year, Constantine is going to have to take charge. If he doesn’t, it’s hard to decipher how the Rice offense is going to find enough success to win on the road without his help.
If he plays as well as he’s played up to this point, Rice will put points on the board. And that’s something Charlotte does not want any part of this year. The 49ers rank second to last in conference play, allowing 38.8 points per game.
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One Final Thing
Up until last week, Rice hadn’t lost a game to someone they were “supposed to beat” and they’d engineered one of their most memorable upsets in recent memory when they took down UAB on the road. Not that oddsmakers would have had faith in the Owls before, but now they’ve put Rice back in the underdog role. Given how this team faired last week, easing up the pressure can’t be a bad thing.
Still, this team has to be feeling some pressure. They’re on the precipice of losing control of a postseason bowl appearance. To get there, Rice needs to win three of four, a feat they’ve done once already this year. They haven’t won three in a row yet, though, a feat the Owls’ haven’t achieved since the final three games of the 2019 season. For a team that has been erratic from week to week, preserving that margin of error seems like an absolute necessity.
Whether it’s a coincidence or not that the Owls have been more proficient on the road than they have been at home doesn’t really matter. All that matters right now is finding a way to win this game. After the UAB win, it was easy to think ahead at what could be. Now that luxury has passed and all eyes have to be on Charlotte. The wiggle room is running out.
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