Rice football hosts Texas Southern this weekend in an intracity matchup. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
Rice football enters Week 3 riding high after an upset win over Houston to kick off their first of seven home games at Rice Stadium this season. Texas Southern was less fortunate, getting thumped by Toledo on the road 71-3. Here’s everything you need to know about this week’s matchup between Rice and Texas Southern.
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs Texas Southern 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.
Sizing up the contenders
Texas Southern is in the opening days of what is shaping up to be another challenging season. The Tigers were able to keep pace with the Owls when these two teams met up in 2021, but there’s not a lot at stake for the visitors this time around with expectations fairly limited. The same can not be said for Rice, which will be expected to win this game and win it comfortably after last weekend’s landmark victory.
All Time | Rice leads, 1-0
Last Five | Rice leads, 1-0
Last Meeting | Home 2021, Rice won 48-34
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Rice Football Stat Notables
Passing | Daniels – 42/68 (61.8 percent), 550 yards, 4TD, 3 INT
Rushing | Connors – 16 carries, 71 yards (4.4 yards per carry), 0 TD / Alexander – 7 carries, 17 yards (2.4 yards per carry), 3 TD
Receiving | McCaffrey – 9 receptions, 121 yards (13.4 yds/rec), 3 TDs / Walker – 6 receptions, 116 yards (19.3 yds/rec), 1 TD
Tackles | Wyatt – 14 / Fresch, Morrison – 12/ Coco, Conti, Pearcy, Taylor – 10
Pass Breakups | Fresch – 4 / Devones, Jean – 2 / Wyatt, Narcisse – 1
Interceptions | Devones – 1
Texas Southern Stat Notables
Passing | Body – 18/38 (47.4 percent), 286 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT
Rushing | Owens – 16 carries, 141 yards (8.8 yards per carry), 1 TD / Howard – 20 carries, 76 yards (3.8 ypc), 0 TD
Receiving | Davis – 7 receptions, 120 yards (17.1 yards per reception), 1 TD / Johnson – 10 receptions, 87 yards (8.7 yds/rec), 0 TD
Tackles | Williams – 25 / Henderson – 18 / Bogerty, Noel – 15
Pass Breakups | Henderson, Player, Williams – 1
Interceptions | Williams – 1
Texas Southern X-Factor | Take the ball away
Turnovers have been a problem for Rice football and were almost their undoing against Houston last weekend. The Owls led by 28 points before JT Daniels through a redzone interception and the Owls fumbled a later possession away, allowing the down-and-out Cougars to stick around and put the result in doubt late.
That’s the same formula Texas Southern will have to replicate if they want to have a chance to compete against a more athletic team on both sides of the ball. Rice corner Tre’shon Devones said it well in his postgame comments, “We can only beat ourselves at this point.”
Texas Southern needs to force the issue, play aggressively and take risks. If they can get Rice to cough up the football they can make this one interesting.
Rice X-Factor | Limit mistakes
In the same vein, Rice football has to make this as formulaic of a game as possible. Finding a way to have success on the ground would be a plus, but as long as the Owls can protect the football and play fundamentally sound, they should win this game.
That might be easier said than done though. Rice hasn’t played a turnover-free football game since Week 2 of 2022 against McNeese State, a span of 13 consecutive games with at least one turnover. Running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks have all been culpable over that stretch. It’s a team problem that needs to be fixed. Saturday would be the perfect time do so.
Injury Report (Subscribers only)
One Final Thing
While Rice football hasn’t won a game quite as significant as the Houston game to this point under Bloomgren, they have had a few big victories along the way. What the Owls have lacked is any sort of reliable consistency from week to week.
This program is not too far removed from losing to a Charlotte team with an interim head coach to take any game for granted, regardless who lines up on the other side of the field.
That’s what will make Saturday so intriguing for this team. If they can hold serve against Texas Southern they’ll enter their final nonconference game against UConn with a winning record as they ready for their first-ever AAC game. Now isn’t the time to look ahead, but it is the time to prove you can succeed where your feet are and take care of business one snap at a time and one game at a time.
Rice football needs to replicate its fast start against Houston and extend its success into the second half and through its conclusion, proving they’ve learned from their hiccups and can make the necessary adjustments to elevate their level of play. If they can do that, a special season could be underway.
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