Start Time: 3:30 PM EST, Saturday, November 28
Location: Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: American Sports Network
Records: Charlotte: 2-9. Rice: 4-7. This is the first meeting between these two programs.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Rice -11. Over/Under: 59.5.
Charlotte Outlook: Looking at the running game, the 49ers are among the worst in the nation. A 38.0% success rate, a #125 ranked rushing IsoPPP, and a #119 ranked rushing S&P+ make it hard to argue otherwise.
What Charlotte does have is the running of Kalif Phillips. The junior has been productive versus nearly every team on the roster in route to 961 yards on the year. He is the only player on the 49ers roster with over 20 carries and a yards per carry average over four. Overall, the 49ers only average 3.5 yards per carry and 166.4 yards per game as a team.
If passing the ball to the other team counted for positive play, then Charlotte would be in business. The 49ers have used three quarterbacks that have combined for 23 interceptions on the season. Freshman Brooks Barden may have the most upside, but Lee McNeill has been the leader for the majority of the season at quarterback.
The passing game does have a few good options, with none better than Austin Duke. The junior has 50 catches on the season, 23 more than any other player on the roster. His catch rate is not as high as you would like for a top receiver, but none of the three quarterback complete more than 55.6% of their passes as a whole. Trent Bostick and T.L. Ford II are also solid receiving options.
While they do have a habit of giving up the big play, the Charlotte defense has been respectable in 2015. The rush defense in particular has been impressive at times with a stuff rate of 24.3%, good for #18 nationally. The inability to stop the occasional long run has jumped the overall rush defense to 180.0 yards allowed per game.
The pass defense runs into the problem of getting a pass rush versus bigger offensive lines. When the front seven cannot regularly generate pressure, explosive plays open up. Overall, the 49ers give up 417.7 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the Charlotte defense include: Nick Cook, Larry Ogunjobi, and Daquan Lucas.
Rice Outlook: The Owls are coming off of a final crushing blow to their postseason hopes in a loss to UTSA.
The Rice run game is almost impressive in its ineptitude. The Owls are in the top 25 nationally in rushing success rate, but in the bottom three in rushing IsoPPP. What that means is that Rice is successful at a high rate with very little to show for it.
The run game brings virtually no explosiveness with Darik DIllard leading the way. The junior is the only running back on the roster with over 400 yards on the ground. Samuel Stewart, Austin Walker, and Jowan Davis have seen some carries as the season has progressed.
While more explosive than the run game, the Rice passing attack is not very good. The Owls average 233.2 yards per game in the air with Driphus Jackson taking the majority of the snaps. His 58.8% completion rate has been a bit of a disappointment this season.
When Jackson and company do complete passes, they are normally to Zach Wright, Dennis Parks, and Temi Alaka. The trio account for 97 of the 196 total catches on the season. Only Alaka has a catch rate over 60%.
Let's talk about defense. If you randomly chose a category to judge the Owls defense, they are nearly guaranteed to be among the nation's worst. Defensive IsoPPP (#124), success rate allowed (#108), points allowed per trip inside the 40 (#128) are just a small sampling of the inability of the Owls to stop anyone. Overall, the Owls allow 462.2 yards per game and 38.5 points per game on the season.
Players to watch on the Rice defense include: Alex Lyons, Brian Womac, and Derek Brown.
Prediction: Rice may be a double digit favorite in this game, but I cannot think of anyone I would expect them to beat that badly. Charlotte can come into this game and win. What team loses the ball more often will fall. Charlotte 17, Rice 14.