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North Texas rolls over Rice 30-14

It was a lazy day with backups and not many big plays, as the Mean Green look ahead to their first C-USA title game, and the Owls looks ahead to an uncertain offseason.

NCAA Football: North Texas at Rice Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

You know how when it’s late in the game, during garbage time, and you only sort of half-pay attention to the game because it’s already over, but you don’t wanna miss any big plays?

Imagine four straight quarters of that, and you have some idea how North Texas vs Rice went on Saturday.

The final score was 30-14, but it wasn’t even as close as all that. Rice had a pick-six early— always a danger when you put the ball in the air as often as Mason Fine and this air-raid offense— but despite a couple of strong defensive stands for the Owls, this game was everything you’d have thought it would (and wouldn’t) be.

Mason Fine finished with 195 passing yards, and stayed in for the whole game, going 18/25 and averaging 7.8 yards a pass. With Jeffrey Wilson out with a foot injury, RB Nic Smith got the ball on the vast majority of run plays, finishing with 26 carries and 178 yards. The next guy down the list was Evan Johnson (six carries, 29 yards), so that probably doesn’t bode well for next week against FAU.

Rice had some brief flashes, as freshman QB Miklo Smalls still threw for over 100 yards, finishing with 107 on 6/16 passing. Smalls was also the top rusher for the Owls on the day, running 17 times and racking up 89 yards on the ground. This may have been more out of necessity, though, as those six completed passes were to five receivers. Aaron Cephus, strong this season overall, has two receptions for 50 yards.

Some additional game notes:

  • Trevor Moore kicked a FG early in the 3rd, it was his 50th career FG and moved him into first all-time. He kicked hist 51st early in the 4th.
  • It was senior day for the Rice Owls, and despite having won their last nine in a row, things did not turn out so well against this subdued but still potent Mean Green offense.
  • Despite their lethargic offense, the Owls did not fear the Mean Green defense, going for it four times throughout the game. They were successful a total of zero times, but they kept trying anyway.

In all, it was a regular season that ended with a whimper and not a bang. North Texas looked adequate, but nothing that would indicate FAU has anything to be worried about next week in the Conference USA title game. The Mean Green finished the regular season with nine wins for the first time since 2003, though they did manage nine wins with their bowl victory for the 2013 season.

The Owls, meanwhile, mercifully, finish their season at 1-11, their sole victory against UTEP, a team which completed their own 0-12 campaign earlier in the day. It’s not looking great for David Bailiff, and watch this space for updates.