Friday games are spotlight games and playing P5 teams are opportunity games. It is a relatively big stage for two of the league’s teams as they came in as heavy underdogs their week two matchups. Marshall faced 24 Boise State, hero of the G5 teams, and winners last week against perennial hype machine Florida State.
Rice hosted Wake Forest after holding Army to only 14 points in last week’s impressive game. The result for both teams were losses, but each impressed. Marshall took a page from Rice’s handbook and lost 14-7, holding hyped freshman QB Hank Bachmeier and the Broncos to only 14 points at in Boise.
The Herd defense was formidable, even if undersized and physically outmatched according to the weight comparison. Doc’s defense got into the backfield and forced turnovers often and gave Herd QB Isaiah Green plenty of opportunities. Unfortunately, the weakness of this team was on full display, as the offense struggled to move the ball beyond the first quarter and managed only the 7 points despite so many chances.
Green finished 10/17 for only 56 yards and threw a pick. The vaunted run game was unimpressive, getting only 116. The Broncos dominated possession and so that made the Herd defensive showing even more impressive.
For Rice, meanwhile, the first quarter ended 14-all. The offense struggled after starting QB Wiley Green was carted off the field with a head/neck injury and Tom Stewart stepped in. The Demon Deacons overpowered the Owl defense out wide, and pulled away slowly throughout the game as Rice struggled to keep up.
It was a good showing for a team that is still building their program. Rice, for all the aversion to moral victories, has had two straight solid outings. Head Coach Mike Bloomgren can point to progress to motivate his team, and the donors can be impressed with the evidence that things are looking up.
Given the fundamental restructuring required to build the program in his vision, Bloomgren was always going to need a bit more time. His Owls started hot last season, but fell off as youth, inexperience, and the lack of depth in the program made it difficult to sustain that momentum. There is evidence that this will not be the case this season, but with the loss of Green already the team’s depth is being tested.