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Western Kentucky Topples Rice

In a battle of division leaders in Conference USA, the Hilltoppers rolled into Houston and dismantled the Owls.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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.

Just that, you ask? Well, the Rice faithful looked like they had had enough.

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.

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.

What's another positively not-so-mean thing we can say about this game? Well, WKU tried really, really hard not to embarrass Rice.

In the end, the Owls were doing the embarrassing on their own. And this guy went home happy.