Fresh off a bye, Rice football heads east to the beach this week to play FAU. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
After a grueling opening month, both Rice football and FAU were off this past weekend, giving them time to recover and get healthy before they start the second half stretch of their 2022 seasons. Prior to the break, Rice upset UAB for the second time in as many years while FAU fell to North Texas in Denton just up the road. Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup of Owls against Owls.
Kickoff time | 5:00 PM CT
Venue | FAU Stadium – Boca Raton, FL
TV | ESPN+ (Viewing Guide)
Radio | Sports Map 94.1 (FM) / Stretch Internet (Online)
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs FAU 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
FAU enters the game in a precarious position. Following a tough nonconference stretch that included games against Purdue and UCF, the Owls fell at home to North Texas. They bring a 2-4 record into their first game after the break. A win would help their bowl aspirations and keep them in the mix for a conference title run. A loss might knock them out of both.
Conversely, Rice football is feeling much better about where they’re at exiting their open week. 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the conference. These Owls can take another step forward with a win on the road against a team that was originally projected to finish near the top of the conference standings.
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All Time | Rice leads, 2-1
Last Five | Rice leads, 2-1
Last Meeting | Home 2016, FAU won 42-25
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Rice Football Stat Notables
Passing | McMahon – 87/136 (64.0 percent), 1080 yards, 9 TD, 7 INT
Rushing | Broussard – 75 carries, 192 yards (2.6 yards per carry), 8 TD / Montgomery – 24 carries, 186 yards (7.8 yards per carry), 0 TD
Receiving | McCaffrey – 31 receptions, 361 yards (11.7 yds/rec), 3 TD / Rozner – 15 receptions, 312 yards (20.8 yds/rec), 3 TDs / Esdale – 19 receptions, 239 yards (12.6 yds/rec), 0 TD
Tackles | Taylor – 26 / Conti, Morrison – 25 / Nyakwol – 19
Pass Breakups | Dunbar – 3 / Morrison, Taylor, Fresch – 2 / Three others tied with one
Interceptions | Taylor – 2 / Morrison, Nyakwol, Chamberlain – 1
Passing | Perry – 115/203 (56.7 percent), 1512 yards, 15 TD, 5 INT
Rushing | McMammon III- 84 carries, 512 yards (6.1 yards per carry), 2 TD / Mobley – 63 carries, 325 yards (5.2 ypc), 3 TD
Receiving | Wester – 39 receptions, 442 yards (11.3 yards per reception), 8 TD / Edrine – 19 receptions, 287 yards (15.1 yds/rec), 2 TD
Tackles | Williams – 58 / Adams – 34 / Toombs – 33
Pass Breakups | Mungin – 3 / Antoine – 2 / Adams, Toombs, Young, McKithen, Cook – 1
Interceptions | Toombs – 2 / Young, McKithen – 1
FAU X-Factor | Keep the ball in front of you
Florida Atlantic is tied for eighth in Conference USA in explosive plays allowed on defense. Only two programs have allowed more 20+ yard plays than the Owls (28) who have also been burned on plays of 50+ yards on five separate occasions. The latter is one play better than Charlotte which owns the second-worst defense in the FBS.
Interestingly enough, FAU has actually been pretty good when it comes to getting off the field on defense if they can keep the ball in front of them. They rank second in Conference USA in opponent’s third down conversion rate (33.8 percent). It’s been the big play that’s done them in time and time again.
Through five weeks, Rice has only produced 18 plays of 20+ yards, which ranks 10th in the conference. But the Owls do have plenty of playmakers capable of breaking off a big run or racking up copious amounts of yardage after the catch. FAU needs to be ready.
Rice X-Factor | Get the run game going
Rice football has found ways to win, ultimately that’s what really matters, but running the football efficiently really hasn’t been as critical to the team’s success as one might have expected. The Owls have averaged 3.6 yards per carry or worse in each of their last three games and haven’t reached the 150-yard rushing mark against any of their FBS opponents yet this season.
FAU is the worst run defense Rice has faced this season, coming in at 100th nationally allowing 173 yards per game on the ground. North Texas ran for 300 yards against this team in their last game and as a result, FAU was never able to get their offense into rhythm.
That’s exactly the kind of game Rice would love to play, especially on the road. Better still, it would serve as one more data point in the Owls’ 2022 offensive resurgence. Putting together a complete game, one where the defense stands tall and the offense can move the ball through the air and on the ground would continue to push Rice towards the top of the conference where they want to be.
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One Final Thing
Florida Atlantic was picked to finish fourth in the conference in the Conference USA preseason media poll. Rice was picked tenth. Rice has already beaten the No. 2 team, UAB, and gets the No. 1 team (UTSA) at home to end the season. The Texas-based Owls enter this game red-hot while the Floridians aren’t playing their best football. Rice needs to take advantage of this opportunity, even if it does come away from home.
To date, all of the Owls’ 2022 wins have come at Rice Stadium, but Rice has won big games away from Houston in each of the past seasons. The road factor shouldn’t play a large factor in the outcome of this game, instead, that should be decided by how well Rice prepares during the bye week.
Rice football head coach Mike Bloomgren said it best following the teams’ upset over UAB, “If you look at the second half, if we can learn to play that way for 60 minutes, I don’t know who can beat the Rice Owls right now but the Rice Owls. We just gotta play our game.”
Bloomgren and this team have the opportunity to prove themselves right on that account this coming Saturday. A win would lift them to 2-0 in conference with a real chance to contend for a conference title which suddenly isn’t feeling quite so elusive anymore. All the Owls need to do is play their game.
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