Rice football takes on Louisiana Tech in their 2021 season finale. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
The last week of the regular season will feature a battle of 3-8 teams in Houston. Rice football rides a four game losing streak into their home finale, dropping their most recent game to UTEP in El Paso last weekend. Louisiana Tech lost to quarterbackless Southern Miss last time out, who the Owls beat earlier in the season. Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup.
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs Louisiana Tech on 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
Even with a win, Louisiana Tech could do no matter than tie their worst season under Skip Holtz. He went 4-8 in his debut season with the Bulldogs in 2013 and has reached a bowl game in every season since. Frankly, reaching four games below .500 isn’t noticeably better than finishing five games below that mark.
Rice football is playing to reach that same 4-8 finish, but with slightly different optics. Four wins would be the most under Mike Bloomgren to date. When combined with a couple of overtime losses and a rigorous non-conference slate, it could be enough to buy him so goodwill. Every win counts at this point.
All Time | Louisiana Tech leads Rice, 9-4
Last Five | Louisiana Tech leads Rice, 5-0
Last Meeting | Home 2019, Louisiana Tech won 23-20 (OT)
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Rice Stat Notables
Passing | Constantine – 126/206 (61.2 percent), 1622 yards, 8 TD, 7 INT
Rushing | Broussard – 104 carries, 535 yards (5.1 yards per carry), 3 TD / Myers – 89 carries, 334 yards (3.8 yards per carry), 8 TD
Receiving | Bailey – 56 receptions, 714 yards (12.8 yds/rec), 2 TD / Patterson – 33 receptions, 490 yards (13.9 yds/rec), 4 TD
Tackles | Montero/Garcia – 60 / Smith – 57 / Pearcy – 53
Pass Breakups | Dunbar – 7, McCord/Smith – 5, Taylor/Fresch – 4
Interceptions | Smith – 3, Nyakwol/Lockhart/Taylor – 2
Louisiana Tech Stat Notables
Passing | Allen – 50/77 (64.9 percent), 620 yards passing, 2 TD, 4 INT
Rushing | Williams – 175 carries, 750 yards (4.3 yards per carry), 8 TD / Garner – 54 carries, 216 yards (4.0 ypc), 3 TD
Receiving | Harris – 65 receptions, 693 yards (10.7 yards per reception), 5 TD / Harris – 35 receptions, 485 yards (13.9 yds/rec), 3 TD
Tackles | Grubbs – 91 / Baldwin – 88 / Buchanan – 47
Pass Breakups | Woods – 5, Grubbs/Baldwin – 4
Interceptions | Williamson/Cole – 2, Four others tied with one apiece
Louisiana Tech X-Factor | One-dimensional Rice
The Louisiana Tech defense hasn’t been particularly strong on any singular front this season. The Bulldogs own the No. 12 passing defense in the conference and the No. 10 rushing defense. Since their C-USA slate has arrived they’ve been a bit better through the air and much worse on the ground, but they’re not going to get confused for an upper-tier unit anytime soon. But maybe they don’t have to be.
Rice hasn’t shown the ability to consistently put up 30 points this season. Their most productive outings have come on days when they’ve been able to run the ball effectively and mix in the passing game. Forcing this team to rely entirely on one or the other has led to struggles. Injuries could further complicate this equation for the Owls, making the task that much more simplistic for the Bulldogs.
Take away the pass or take away the run. Then force Rice to beat you with one hand behind their back for 60 minutes. It’s not something they’ve shown the ability to do this season, especially not with a one-dimensional offensive attack.
Rice X-Factor | Stop the pass
The Rice secondary has been the problem point for this team and it hasn’t just been the high volume aerial attacks that have found success. After a slow first half, UTEP found tremendous success through the air against Rice, and they did so at all three levels. Conversely, when Rice has been able to hang tough and play tight enough coverage, the defense has been able to get off the field.
Rice held Charlotte to 57 yards rushing. Western Kentucky rushed 25 times for only 93 yards. UTEP tallied 122 on the ground, but roughly half of that came on one long breakaway run. This defense is going to limit the run, if nothing else at least to the degree that it doesn’t cost them the game. The focal point should be the passing game, and more specifically, finding any way at all to slow that down.
Pick ‘Em Contest (Subscribers only)
Make sure you submit your entry for The Roost’s weekly pick’em challenge. There will be swag and prizes for the top finishers at the end of the season. Choose an answer to each of the six questions below and comment on this post on the Patreon page to enter. It’s that easy.
Injury Report (Subscribers only)
One Final Thing
Following an up-and-down start to conference play, it’s been a rough month for Rice football fans. This team hasn’t lived up to the expectations they set for themselves, and they’re well aware of that. Conversations to unearth why they fell short and deciding what needs to change so that they can continue climbing will be had in the offseason — and that’s only a few days away. For now, the task at hand is Louisiana Tech.
Sending the seniors off on a high note, after all they’ve done to get the program to this point, should be the focus of this week. Thanking those who have worked tirelessly for years to turn a 1-win team into a squad capable of knocking off an undefeated, ranked Marshall squad on the road and follow that up with a win over conference heavyweight UAB a season later has to the focus.
Enjoy this football game. Then we’ll get to the offseason. And we’ll be tired of the offseason almost as soon as it arrived.
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