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Rice vs FAU Preview: The Bowel Bowl

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Owl fans can only hope that the loser leaves town.

Rice v Florida Atlantic Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Time: 3:30 PM EST

Location: Houston, Texas, Rice Stadium

TV: ESPN3

Betting Line: FAU +4

Series History: Rice leads 2-0


FAU and Rice are two of the worst teams in the FBS. Both are 1-7 and winless in conference play with each of their wins coming against awful FCS teams.

FAU ranks 122nd in S&P+ and Rice ranks 118th in S&P+. The odds of you seeing good football being played in Rice Stadium this weekend are close to none.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t experience a game that will most definitely come down to the final minutes in front of 500 people.

This game will be extremely frustrating to watch and most definitely comedic. Since joining Conference USA the two programs have only faced off twice but both games came down to the final minutes with Rice prevailing each time.

Seeing as how both teams are extremely awful, this game will absolutely come down to the final minutes and end in the most ridiculous way possible.

Rice Outlook (Jeremy)

With a mysterious illness and sickening trip to Ruston behind them, Rice turns the page to November, a month that has actually treated the Owls quite well.

Under David Bailiff, Rice has a 17-3 home record in November games, including winning 16 of the past 17 at Rice Stadium. If you believe Rice Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard has not made up his mind about Bailiff’s future (he has said no rash decision has been made), then this November’s record may be the deciding factor in whether Bailiff is back at the helm in 2017.

The schedule is not daunting. Rice’s next three opponents – FAU, Charlotte and UTEP – are a combined 6-18 and have just three conference wins. But if Rice is going to beat any of them, they have to play some semblance of defense.

Rice has slipped back to worst in the country in total defense, giving up an average of 546 yards a game. The defense does a little better defending the run, and fortunately FAU is more of a run than pass team.

While Tyler Stehling remains the starter at quarterback, Bailiff said Monday he plans to play freshmen J.T. Granato and Jackson Tyner more the rest of the season. This seems like the right move for the future since Stehling is out of eligibility.

Granato is No. 2 on the depth chart but did not make the trip to Louisiana Tech because he had his wisdom teeth removed. Tyner did get playing time and was 4-5 passing for 54 yards.

“He gets very limited reps in practice, so we were pleased with how fast the ball came out of his hand,” Bailiff said about Tyner at Monday’s press conference. “He’s a big 6-4, 240-pound kid.”

Whoever is at quarterback will have to work behind a largely makeshift line. Due to injuries, nine different linemen have played significant minutes.

“I believe this will be his eighth offensive line change,” Bailiff said. “It’s hard for those guys to gel when you have a different lineup every week.”

FAU Outlook (Cyrus)

Fresh off a bye week FAU no-showed against Western Kentucky and got embarrassed 52-3. As horrible the season has been FAU has not looked nearly as bad as Rice has this year but last week’s game was a bad omen for the rest of the season as Partridge appears to have lost the team.

FAU has been unable to win close game this year as they are 1-4 in one-possession games this season making his record now 4-12 during his time in Boca Raton.

FAU can only do one thing well offensively and that’s run the ball. Buddy Howell has 643 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Devin Singletary has 295 rushing yards and is just as good a runner as Howell.

Despite a breakout year from receiver Kalib Woods who leads the team in receiving yards (615) and receptions (44) he only has one touchdown on the year. No other receiver on the team comes close to this production as the next leading catcher is Henry Bussey with 16 catches and 106 yards for the year.

A lot of that falls on the lack of identity FAU has on offense. The offensive line has been a mash-unit as the Owls have started at least eight different units this year but I know all about the injuries Rice has had to endure so I’ll stop there.

Despite a good rushing attack the offense just isn’t good and some blame can go to Jason Driskel who has a lack of ability to stretch the field. He’s passed for four touchdowns and seven interceptions this year with 1355 yards.

The passing offense mainly consists of screens, slants, hitches, and out routes. Nothing vertical. Occasionally there will be a goofy trick play that results in three yards.

The defense is really bad. Can’t stop the pass despite boasting some talented defensive backs in Ocie Rose and Jalen Young. Can’t get to the quarterback despite having the reigning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year in Trey Hendrickson.

Prediction

Bailiff is the far superior coach and the Owls in Houston have had FAU’s number in close games so if it does go down the wire I’m not feeling too confident FAU gets the win. Rice wins because FAU appears to have quit on Charlie Partridge and I would be completely fine with that outcome. All in all I’d really hate for Partridge to stumble to 3-9 for the third straight year and see him and others try to sell this season as a stepping stone for success. Rice 31 FAU 17 ~ Cyrus

The Owls that make less mistakes and give up less big plays will end the game with the victory. Playing at home, with nothing riding on the game against a 119th ranked offense may take some pressure off the struggling Rice defense. Plus, Rice has a history of close wins over FAU. They get one more here. Rice 28 FAU 23 ~ Jeremy