Rice football takes on the McNeese State Cowboys in their 2022 home opener. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Rice football and McNeese State meet in a Week 2 matchup of teams desperate to bounce back from disappointing opening weekend losses. Regardless of what shakes out at the quarterback position, the Owls will look to even their record and get their season back on track against the Cowboys. Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup.
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs McNeese State on this week’s episode of the Blue and Gray Preview Show, streaming live on Wednesday at Noon on the Rice Athletics YouTube channel. Look for a recap of the game on the site afterward as well as on The Roost Podcast, which should be released early next week. 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
Rice football left the first quarter with smiles this past weekend, all tied up 7-7 with USC. Then Wiley Green was knocked out of the game on the first of three pick-sixes, largely attributable to dropped passes by his wide receivers. If Rice wants to reach the postseason, they more than likely have to win this game.
McNeese was able to keep things a little closer in their first game, but the results were the same. The Cowboys fell 40-17 to the Montana State Bobcats on the road. They’ll be looking for some sort of momentum before they return home the following weekend to play Alcorn State in their first home contest of the year.
All Time | n/a
Last Five | n/a
Last Meeting | n/a
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Rice Football Stat Notables
Passing | McMahon – 6/15 (40 percent), 65 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT / Green – 8/13 (61.5 percent), 69 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing | Montgomery – 6 carries, 99 yards (16.5 yards per carry), 0 TD / Broussard – 15 carries, 26 yards (1.7 yards per carry), 2 TD
Receiving | McCaffrey – 5 receptions, 51 yards (10.2 yds/rec), 0 TD / Esdale – 4 receptions, 38 yards (9.5 yds/rec), 0 TD
Tackles | Lockhart – 6 / M. Williams – 5 / Six others tied with four
Pass Breakups | n/a
Interceptions | n/a
McNeese Stat Notables
Passing | Kadum – 11/21 (52.4 percent), 126 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing | Durham – 3 carries, 82 yards (27.3 yards per carry), 1 TD / McMahon – 8 carries, 65 yards (8.1 ypc), 0 TD
Receiving | Matthews – 2 receptions, 76 yards (38.0 yards per reception), 1 TD / Pierce – 7 receptions, 44 yards (6.3 yds/rec), 0 TD
Tackles | Williams, Willis-Dalton – 8 / Grayson – 6
Pass Breakups | Green – 1
Interceptions | n/a
McNeese X-Factor | Get the Owls off schedule
If Rice football fans were reminded of anything in their season-opening loss to USC, it was of the vast gulf that exists between when this team is performing at the extent of its abilities to their depths. McNeese’s task is to force the Owls into a performance more closely resembling the latter by disrupting what Rice wants to do.
In practical terms, that means putting the Rice offense behind the sticks with sacks and tackles for a loss. On the other side of the ball, The Cowboys need to prove then can formulate extended drives — something they weren’t really able to do in their first outing against Montana State.
If McNeese is unable to alert the steady drum beat of the Rice offense in either capacity it’s going to be tough sailing for the visitors next weekend.
Rice X-Factor | Catch the football
Head coach Mike Bloomgren said as much in his postgame comments following the USC loss. That game has the potential to look much different if the Owls receivers simply hang on to the passes that hit their fingertips. Quarterback play can always stand to improve, but handing out richochets left and right is a recipe for disaster which the Owls now know all too well.
This offense has too many playmakers to be kept at bay for 60 minutes against an FCS squad. The talent gap should somewhat closely resemble the one that separated Rice and USC last weekend. But if Rice turns the ball over and gives up drives and points, this could be anyone’s game.
Bottom line: Rice football needs to play clean.
Injury Report (Subscribers only)
Unfortunately, Rice football has a lot of injury questions entering Week 2, chief among them: quarterback.
One Final Thing
There are no “supposed to’s” in college football, at least not on paper. But Rice football was “supposed to” lose to USC and Rice football is “supposed to” beat McNeese State this coming weekend. All else held equal, Rice is on track with expectations for its 2022 season, even if the jarring nature of the season opener has made the trajectory feel hazier than it might actually be in reality.
Rice can build a lot of goodwill and trust in themselves by taking care of business at home against McNeese. If they’re as talented as head coach Mike Bloomgren said he belives them to be, this game ought to end in victory.
If we get to Sunday and Rice football sits at 1-1, all will be well. So maybe perhaps the cliche of “having to go 1-0 this week” is particularly true for the next few days. Rice has to win to get the taste of that bad loss out of their mouths and prove they’ve still got the talent and discipline to achieve their goals this season.
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