If that's the eventual Conference USA championship game, fans of the Rice Owls might want to find better things to do with their time. The Owls entered the game tied for first in the West division of C-USA, but their counterparts in the East division rolled them over.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers were ruthless in their visit to Houston and dominated the hosts Rice Owls in their very own Rice Stadium to the tune of 49-10. WKU silenced the vaunted Rice home crowd by grabbing the Owls by the neck right from the start, and never letting go.
After a three and out to start the game and down 3-0 after a Rice field goal, Tops quarterback Brandon Doughty got to work and promptly guided his team to three straight touchdowns to build an 18-point lead.
The second quarter unfolded more or less exactly as the first had, with the Hilltoppers adding another two touchdowns to answer the Owls' lone score. Though WKU certainly didn't need help scoring, Rice helped it anyway, coughing the ball four times behind two fumbles and two interceptions.
Halftime stats pic.twitter.com/leaaOnDjGU— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 3, 2015
By halftime, Rice was down 35-10 despite having gained a reasonable 246 yards on the ground and 13 first downs. The difference? The four turnovers sure didn't help, not to mention the vaunted Rice rushing attack being limited to just 62 yards on 20 attempts.
It's not so much that the Hilltoppers were so great against the run as much as it that they were ahead by so much that the Owls didn't have a choice but to abandon the run.
Lest we forget, the stakes are high for the WKU quarterback this season.
Crunching numbers this morning, Brandon Doughty on pace to finish top 20 in passing yards and top 30 in TD passes in NCAA history.— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) September 28, 2015
In the first half, Doughty had completed 20 of 28 passes for 343 yards and four touchdown passes, one each to Taywan Taylor, Jared Dangerfield, Antwane Grant and Tyler Higbee. It was enough for him to pass a few titans on the NCAA's all-time career passing list.
Brandon Doughty now 103rd on NCAA's all-time career passing list. Passed Whitehurst, Clausen, and Henne in the second quarter.— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 3, 2015
Just that, you ask? Well, the Rice faithful looked like they had had enough.
Second half kickoff at Rice Stadium pic.twitter.com/9wDBIHg14q— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 3, 2015
Perhaps they had looked up at the empty stands, or perhaps because they knew that the outcome was a mere formality; whatever the reason, the two teams combined to play a workmanlike scoreless third quarter.
Western Kentucky scores for the first time in the second half. They could have definitely scored sooner but are trying to kill the clock.— Stephanie Kuzydym (@stephkuzy) October 3, 2015
A second D'Andre Ferby touchdown, from the one-yard line, put the score at 42-10 at the very start of the fourth quarter.
D’Andre Ferby one-yard touchdown run caps WKU’s longest scoring drive of the year— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 3, 2015
What's another positively not-so-mean thing we can say about this game? Well, WKU tried really, really hard not to embarrass Rice.
Tyler Stehling just got stripped and sacked. Oh, & WKU recovered it. At the 2. That pretty much sums up this day for Rice.— Stephanie Kuzydym (@stephkuzy) October 3, 2015
In the end, the Owls were doing the embarrassing on their own. And this guy went home happy.
@henry_bouldin love this team— Jimmy (@Jimmy_Shivers) October 3, 2015