Rice covered the spread. That is the easiest way to describe this game.
The Owls were the the better of the two CUSA Owl-named squads on this day. For a good portion of the game, they led, and impressed throughout. Ultimately, poor kicking and a talent disparity doomed the home squad to losing by nearly 20 points.
Early on it looked like Ed Oliver — the Houston defensive lineman getting Heisman hype — would be the story of the day. After Rice struggled to separate themselves from Prairie View last week in Week 0, it looked like the Cougars would dominate this one because of Oliver’s ability to bottle up the run game.
As it was, Rice put up 4.3 yards per pop in the first half, but only 2.4 in the second half. Emmanuel Esukpa had 173 last week against Prairie View and continued to impress this week. He took one 52 yards in the first half as Rice found ways to move the ball around Ed Oliver. He finished with 81.
As a team Rice managed 147 rushing yards on 43 carries. Ed Oliver was a force, and put Mike Bloomgren’s crew to put two lineman on him for the majority of the game. Oliver finished with 13 tackles, 5 solo, and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Rice was always going to have to win this through the air if they wanted a chance and Shawn Stankavage was game. He and Jackson Tyner split time again, but Stakavage managed 204 passing and three scores. His fade passes were scary, but effective, and Austin Trammel and Aaron Cephus were catching them.
Rice took a 7-point lead to halftime and added three more on their first drive.
D’Eriq King took over in the third quarter. The Cougar QB engineered three straight TDs and Rice missed field goals. Ultimately that was the game. The Owls will to fight seemed to take a hit with each missed FG. Jack Fox finished 1/3 and Haden Tobola finished 1/2.
Rice’s offense is not yet explosive enough to leave points on the field, and the defense is not ready to stop talent like King’s so often. This was an encouraging loss, and one that should put a little fear into the rest of the league.
- 8/25 PVAM ESPN+ W 31-28
- 9/1HoustonCBSSN 45-27
- 9/8@ Hawaii Stadium (App)
- 9/22 @ USM *ESPN+
- 9/29 @ WF TBA
- 10/6 UTSA * ESPN3
- 10/13 UAB *ESPN+
- 10/20 @ FIU *ESPN+
- 10/27 @ UNT * ESPN+
- 11/3 UTEP * ESPN3
- 11/10 @ LT *ESPN3
- 11/17 @ LSU TBA
- 11/24 ODU *ESPN+