Start Time: 7:00 pm CST, Friday, Oct. 30
Location: Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas
Radio: KXKZ 107.5, LA Tech Sports Network, YSR 1560
Series Record: Series Tied, 4-4.
Live Stats: Link
Betting Line: LATech -10
This game will be a strength on strength matchup, as Louisiana Tech's stout run defense will try to shut down the Rice rushing attack. The Bulldogs are one of eleven teams in the country that give up less than 100 yards rushing per game.
Rice ranks 36th in the country with 195 yards per game on the ground. That number is skewed slightly as the Owls rolled up 401 yards rushing in week one against Wagner. Outside of that game, Rice rushes for just over 160 yards per game.
The Bulldogs had a strong game last week as they dismantled Middle Tennessee 45-16. Tech put up 470 yards of offense and forced 3 turnovers in a dominating win at home. Now their task is to take that same effort and try to duplicate it on the road.
Kenneth Dixon returned from injury and scored 4 touchdowns against the Blue Raiders. Tech will need him to carry the load against Rice, who gives up 205 rushing yards per game. Dixon is by far Tech's biggest advantage in this game.
On defense, Tech will try to continue to stop the run, but they also must continue to pressure the quarterback. Redshirt freshman Jaylon Ferguson has five sacks in his last three games and has added yet another playmaker to the Bulldog's front seven on defense. Cornerbacks Adarius Barnes and Bryson Abraham have played well in recent weeks and both forced turnovers against MTSU.
LA Tech's passing attack continues to put up big numbers. Led by Jeff Driskel and Trent Taylor, the Bulldogs rank 16th in the country in passing offense with 315 yards per game. Drisekl ranks 10th in the country in passing yards with 2409. Taylor ranks in the top ten nationally in both receptions per game and total receiving yards.
Driphus Jackson has played well at quarterback the last two weeks for Rice, who picked up wins at Florida Atlantic and at home against Army. Jackson was 22 of 34 for 284 yards and 3 TD's against FAU. In the win over Army, Jackson was 20 of 30 for 267 yards and 2 TD's.
Rice is pretty balanced on offense, with 241 yards passing per game to go with the 195 yards per game on the ground. The Owls struggle on defense, ranking 107 in total defense, 107 in rushing defense, and 126 in pass efficiency defense.
The Owls rank 117 in turnover margin at -1.29 and they cannot turn the ball over against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs used 3 turnovers to dismantle MTSU last week, but the Owls also have firsthand experience. Jackson threw 3 interceptions in Ruston last season and the Owls lost to LA Tech 76-31.
Rice had 432 yards of offense against Army and 487 against FAU. The Owls also had a bye week before hosting Army, so they should be well rested as they haven't traveled since October 10th.
LA Tech has not had a bye week yet and they are playing on the road for the third time in four weeks. The Bulldogs have battled injuries on offense all season, but should be as close to 100% as they have been all season.
Rice has a chance to win this game if the Bulldogs come out flat. The Owls have been playing well on offense and they are well rested. The key for Rice is to avoid turnovers, but that is easier said than done.
LA Tech will look to keep pace with Southern Miss in the western division of Conference USA. The defense has played well recently and they should set the tone in this game. Kenneth Dixon has proven he can carry the load even if he is not at 100% healthy.
Louisiana Tech 37, Rice 24