Start Time: 2:30 p.m. CST, Saturday, Oct. 28
Location: Rice Stadium, Houston, TX
Radio: Sportsmap 94.1, KXKZ 107.5 FM
Streaming: FloSports.com ($)
Series: 6-4 Louisiana Tech
Point Spread: Louisiana Tech by 13
What’s at Stake
For both teams, in a strictly-by-the-numbers sense, it’s bowl eligibility. Rice enters this match with a rough 1-6 record and would have to win out the rest of the regular season (which includes tough games against Southern Miss and North Texas) to be bowl eligible. Though it looks like Louisiana Tech is out of the running for the Conference USA title, the Bulldogs enter this game 3-4 overall, and look to hold on to hopes of reaching a bowl game at the end of the season.
Louisiana Tech Outlook
This season certainly isn’t going the way Bulldog fans and the media thought it would. With four losses thus far this season, three of those were only lost by a combined total of nine points, which continues to sting the team as they progress this season.
Louisiana Tech will have plenty of opportunities to build confidence back in their offense as they go up against a struggling Rice defense that has been allowing an average of 34 points allowed per game to rank 104th in the nation in overall defense. Though the offense doesn’t have the same high octane power it did in season’s past, they continue to show signs of slow improvement. J’Mar Smith leads the league in passing yards per completion at 13.78, and is third in Conference USA play in total yards at 1723. After last weeks crushing loss to Southern Miss, senior Jarred Craft also became the 14th Bulldog to surpass a 2,000 career rushing yards as well.
The big key for a Louisiana Tech victory is to look past the stinging losses of the season thus far and look to win this game. If the Bulldogs can put up big numbers against the Owls on Saturday, that could mean a huge moral boost for a discouraged Bulldog squad and could help get the Bulldogs back on the winning path.
“As painful as it is to watch, we can’t put our head in the sand. We can’t sulk over it. We can’t go, ‘What is wrong? What is broken?’ We got to be able to do the little things better and we got to do a better job as coaches. I got to do a better job as a head coach. Our players got to do a better job,” Holtz said at a weekly press conference. “We got to roll our sleeves up, circle the wagons, we got to compete.”
Rice Owls Outlook
It’s hard for Rice to have a positive outlook coming into this game when the only thing that the Owls look ok at (but still ranked 73rd in the nation) is rushing yards. The silver lining for Rice is DE Brian Womac, who is having a phenomenal season ranking 5th overall in the FBS with eight sacks so far this season. Against a struggling Louisiana Tech offensive line, this may be an opportunity for Womac and the defense to slow the Bulldogs’ offense down and possibly force a few fumbles.
Ranking second-to-last in points per game going into this matchup, it’s hard to see the Owls making much progress with the ball, even against a Louisiana Tech defense that’s ranked 77th in the FBS in points against (27.6 average per game). Quarterback Jackson Tyner has struggled to get much going offensively for the Owls, and has only 548 total yards for the season.
Though both teams are struggling this season, Louisiana Tech should still be able to control this game the whole time. Look for J’Mar Smith to throw to Teddy Veal often to have a stat-boosting day against the Owls. Though this game may not meet blowout proportions, look for Louisiana Tech to win by at least two touchdowns.
Louisiana Tech 35 Rice 14