I live life by one unfaltering modus operandi: football is good and it makes me happy. Even when my team is bad, awful even, I can enjoy watching them compete. If there's one time that undying appreciation is challenged, it's 11 am kickoffs. I believe that live football is meant to be enjoyed only after the consumption of various smoked meats and cold beers, not squeezed between some scoffed down donuts and a famished 3 pm lunch. Now I'm no sucker, I know there's TV money to be made and both teams will benefit from the exposure but as a fan, it sucks. Thankfully, there have been rumors of a postgame tailgate floating around Twitter. As fans of a 2-6 team, this is all we have left to cheer for.
For all of the struggle that UTSA has endured over the past few weeks, Rice has really hit their midseason stride with a five game win streak. After dropping contests to Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Old Dominion, the Owls seemed to pull it together all at once. Driphus Jackson's comfort in Rice's offense has grown considerably each week and the defense has been able to overcome injury struggles to hold their last four opponents to an average of just over 18 points over the span.
Speaking of injuries, they're going to play a big role in this week's game. UTSA is anticipating Tucker Carter returning to action. The redshirt senior began the season as UTSA's starter under quarterback before suffering a lingering shoulder injury. After UTSA's second string quarterback Blake Bogenschutz went down with a broken hand and QB3 Austin Robinson passed for just 32 yards on 20 attempts against UTEP, Carter's presence will be a much-needed upgrade.
While the Roadrunners might be in for an injury-related boost on Saturday, the Owls won't be so fortunate. Christian Covington, one of the most decorated C-USA players this side of Rakeem Cato, will be missing anywhere from two to four weeks due to a knee injury. Fortunately for Rice, their defensive line is a deep unit that can absorb the loss. Defensive end Zach Patt earned C-USA Player of the Week honors this week after terrorizing FIU with five sacks. Brian Nordstrom has already totaled 14 tackles for loss this season. Graysen Schantz is a big time pass rush threat. Dylan Klare is a stalwart on the defensive line that can play on the inside or out.
With UTSA all but eliminated from contention for the C-USA West title, they'll need to be self-motivated to play spoiler on the road. Rice has won the first two games in the series so the large UTSA senior class should be anxious to finally win one against the Owls. In order to do so they will need to make a momentous offensive improvement after earning just two first downs against an average UTEP defense. Be sure to brush the scrambled eggs out of your no-shave November beard and tune in for a morning tune-up before starting your college football Saturday. We don't have many of these precious days left in 2014.