Rice football takes on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns as non-conference play continues. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Fresh off their first win of the 2022 season, Rice football looks to establish a winning streak in their final home game of nonconference play. The 1-1 Owls host the 2-0 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns under the direction of first-year head coach Michael Desormeaux. Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup.
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs Louisiana 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
A win for Rice football on Saturday would give the Owls a winning record through three games for the first time under head coach Mike Bloomgren. It would also put the program on strong footing to reach a bowl game by ensuring no worse than a 2-2 split in nonconference play with a challenge against crosstown rival Houston looming.
On the other side of the ball, Louisiana was a perennial 10+ win team under former head coach Billy Napier, now at Florida. But expectations haven’t fallen much even though there’s been a change in leadership. This game could serve as one step closer to a fourth consecutive double-digit win season for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
All Time | Louisiana leads, 3-2
Last Five | Louisiana leads, 3-2
Last Meeting | Home 1989, Louisiana won 18-3
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Rice Football Stat Notables
Passing | McMahon – 26/44 (59.1 percent), 339 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT / Green – 8/13 (61.5 percent), 69 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing | Montgomery – 10 carries, 100 yards (10.0 yards per carry), 0 TD / Broussard – 32 carries, 96 yards (3.0 yards per carry), 3 TD
Receiving | Rozner – 4 receptions, 107 yards (26.8 yds/rec), 2 TD / McCaffrey – 9 receptions, 97 yards (10.8 yds/rec), 0 TD
Tackles | Lockhart – 9 / M. Williams, Morrison – 8 / Fresch – 7
Pass Breakups | Dunbar, Narcisse, Morrison – 1
Interceptions | Taylor, Chamberlain – 1
Passing | Fields – 23/41 (56.1 percent), 314 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT / Wooldridge – 19/24 (79.2 percent), 237 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing | Smith – 18 carries, 74 yards (4.1 yards per carry), 1 TD / Kibodi – 14 carries, 63 yards (4.5 ypc), 0 TD
Receiving | Stephens Jr. – 3 receptions, 103 yards (34.3 yards per reception), 1 TD / Jefferson – 5 receptions, 80 yards (16.0 yds/rec), 1 TD
Tackles | Ossai, Pedescleaux – 12 / Six others tied with six
Pass Breakups | Bishop – 2 / Garror, Jones, Trahan – 1
Interceptions | Five tied with one
Louisiana X-Factor | Corrall the pass
Rice football had a big day through the air against McNeese State, helping to unlock the run game and making the Owls’ offensive attack look as lethal as it has looked in quite some time. Rice is going to run the football and remains committed to the ground game, but forcing the Owls to rely solely on their running game and eliminating big pass plays is a must.
Louisiana allowed 4.3 yards per attempt in a 24-7 win over Southeastern Louisiana and 6.2 yards per attempt against Eastern Michigan. Rice averaged 9.0 yards per attempt in their win over McNeese this past weekend. Everything else was working when the aerial attack was pacing the offensive attack. What happens if it’s not working to that degree? Can Rice still create explosive plays and score?
Rice X-Factor | Stay on schedule
Rice was faced with 16 third down attempts in each of their first two games. The Owls converted five of 16 against USC and then doubled their efficiency, converting 10 of 16 against McNeese State. It was no coincidence their point total exploded from 14 to 52 in that small two-game sample.
Scoring 50+ points a game isn’t sustainable, but for Rice, staying on schedule and controlling the football is part of the roadmap to get there. The Owls were able to generate explosive plays against McNeese State, but will be in for a tougher test against Louisiana. When those big plays are limited, they’ll need to find a way to move the chains.
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One Final Thing
Rice football has yet to play any team that’s truly in their weight class. USC is currently ranked in the Top 10 nationally and McNeese is now an 0-2 FCS squad. Louisiana looks to be the most evenly matched opponent of the first three games, but most measures have the Ragin’ Cajuns a good bit better than the Owls. For example, SP+ tabs Rice as the 120th best team in the country. Louisiana sits at 61.
Against USC, we learned that the offense can be productive when they’re avoiding mistakes and playing well up front. Against McNeese, we learned that Rice can dominate an inferior opponent, particularly in the trenches. What can we learn about the Owls this week?
A loss wouldn’t disqualify this team from their objectives, but it would require five conference wins to reach .500 and a six-win season rather than four. Conversely, a win would be massive, most likely checking in near the top of the Owls’ best wins under Bloomgren to date. Either way, it will be a good litmus test to determine where this program stands with conference play looming in just a few weeks.
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