Rice football heads back to Houston to host Tulane this weekend. How to watch, key stats, x-factor picks and more.
There is only one matchup this weekend pitting AAC teams with winning conference records and it’s being played in Houston. Rice football hosts Tulane a week removed from a primetime win over Tulsa on the road. Tulane comes to town fresh off a victory over North Texas. Here’s everything you need to know about this week’s matchup between Rice and Tulane.
Audio / Visual Preview
We’ll preview Rice football vs Tulane 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
Tulane is still in the driver’s seat for the New Year’s Six bowl slot for the Group of 5. A loss to anyone along the way wouldn’t necessarily slam the door on that chance, but it would make it considerably more challenging. The margin of error is fully dependent on how well others play. The Mean Green would much prefer to control their own destiny in that respect, making a win on Saturday important.
Rice football doesn’t have New Year’s Six aspirations, but they do still have hopes for a conference championship game appearance. That would get much more challenging should they take on any additional losses. 3-1 with a win against the current conference favorite would officially put Rice on the map.
All Time | Rice leads, 20-15-1
Last Five | Rice leads, 4-1
Last Meeting | Home 2013, Rice won 17-13
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Rice Football Stat Notables
Passing | Daniels – 155/243 (63.8 percent), 2173 yards, 17 TD, 5 INT
Rushing | Connors – 50 carries, 300 yards (6.0 yards per carry), 4 TD / Otoviano – 47 carries, 171 yards (3.6 yards per carry), 2 TD
Receiving | McCaffrey – 36 receptions, 613 yards (17.0 yds/rec), 7 TDs / MacNeill – 21 receptions, 281 yards (13.4 yds/rec), 2 TD
Tackles | Conti – 46 / Wyatt – 45 / Morrison – 43
Pass Breakups | Fresch, Taylor – 5 / Devones – 4, Wyatt, Jean – 3
Interceptions | Taylor, Devones, Conti – 1
Tulane Stat Notables
Passing | Pratt – 80/113 (70.8 percent), 1121 yards, 12 TD, 2 INT
Rushing | Hughes – 118 carries, 619 yards (5.2 yards per carry), 5 TD / Clayton-Johnson – 28 carries, 116 yards (4.1 ypc), 0 TD
Receiving | Keys – 27 receptions, 494 yards (18.3 yards per reception), 6 TD / Jackson – 19 receptions, 329 yards (17.3 yds/rec), 4 TD
Tackles | Machado – 51 / Despaine – 37 / Grubbs – 31
Pass Breakups | Pedescleaux – 7 / Eight others tied with 2
Interceptions | Robinson – 4 / Five others tied with 1
Tulane X-Factor | Stay on the field
Tulane and Rice rank second and third in the AAC, respectively, in time of possession. For both squads, being able to control the game and dictate how it’s played has been a crucial factor in their success. It’s how Rice was able to post their largest FBS win of the season last Thursday, controlling the second half almost entirely with two long possessions.
Rice is 0-2 this season when losing the time of possession battle whereas Tulane’s success hasn’t been as neatly tied to whether or not they control the clock. If the Green Wave are able to maintain command this time, though, they’ll be able to amplify any miscues the Owls have. A three-and-out becomes much more costly when you don’t get to see the ball again for an extended period of time.
Tulane must seek to give Rice a dose of its own medicine. Force the home team to execute to near-perfect standards when they have the football and minimize their margin for error. That’s given Rice trouble in the past and it could prove fatal against a team as talented as Tulane.
Rice X-Factor | Hit some home runs
Rice won’t allow themselves to be intimidated against the reigning AAC Conference Champions. They’ll enter Saturday believing they can hang with the Green Wave. They can solidify those beliefs further by proving they can impose their will offensively against a Tulane defense that has been a bit leakier in the secondary than they’d like to admit.
Tulane ranks 12th in the AAC in pass plays of 10+ yards allowed and 10th in pass plays of 20+ yards. Rice, on the other side of the ledger, leads all AAC teams in the latter category and is second in the former. Rice quarterback JT Daniels has become this team’s biggest asset and they’ve leaned into that identity in full force in their wins so far.
Sustained drives against the Tulane defense is a tough ask. Getting a few chunk plays here and there, particularly through the air, will go a long way toward helping Rice trade blows with the Tulane offense. It’s critical the Owls find success downfield.
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One Final Thing
Earlier odds have Tulane as a 10.5-point favorite against Rice on Saturday. In actuality, the Owls are the underdogs, a role they’ve reprised well in the past. Only two programs in the country, Wyoming and Ohio, have more outright wins as a home underdog since 2021 than Rice. Rice has been a home underdog just once this season, in Week 2 against Houston. They won outright.
The line is also indicative of a game oddsmakers project to be much more winnable than one might have initially thought. Tulane enters this game as a Top 25 team. Rice hasn’t beaten a ranked team since 2020. Nevertheless, Rice’s impressive performance against Tulsa has evidently gotten oddsmakers’ attention. When this time is rolling, they’re dangerous.
Now, whether or not they’re firing on all cylinders is a legitimate question. The UConn debacle isn’t all that far in the rearview mirror just yet. But the opportunity they have in front of them right now is quite tangible. Rice football should be able to hang with this team. If they can keep it close long enough, they might just have another historic upset on their hands, but they’d better come to play.
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