Rice (2-5) at Tulsa (6-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: H.A. Chapman Stadium (30,000) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: FSN, MSG. Home Record: Rice 1-3, Tulsa 0-0. Away Record: Rice 1-2, Tulsa 0-0. Neutral Record: Rice 0-0, Tulsa 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-3, Tulsa 4-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 9-7-1.
GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane attempt to keep their perfect run atop the Conference USA West Division standings alive, as they entertain the Rice Owls on Saturday afternoon.
Rice won its second game of the season last week against FBS newcomer Texas- San Antonio, 34-14, in its most impressive all-around performance of the year. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Owls, although they are still 0-3 in the conference and tied with UTEP for last place in the West Division.
Tulsa, on the other hand, is in the midst of yet another strong season. Since losing its opener to Iowa State (38-23), the Golden Hurricane have won six games in a row, including its first four C-USA bouts. They have been dominant in conference play the past couple of years, winning 18 of their last 19 games against C-USA opponents dating back to Oct. 16, 2010.
The Golden Hurricane have beaten the Owls in five straight seasons, and own a 9-7-1 advantage in the all-time series.
The Rice offense (27.9 ppg, 418.9 ypg) has been inconsistent for much of the year, putting up 34 points or more three times while scoring 24 points or less on four occasions.
The attack is led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue, who has accounted for 14 total touchdowns (seven passing, seven rushing). His completion percentage isn't strong (.592), but he has thrown just three interceptions while averaging 169.7 passing yards per game.
Charles Ross (73 carries, 452 yards) barely edges McHargue (433 yards) as the team's leading rusher, but he's only scored one touchdown. Turner Petersen (74 carries, 302 yards, three TDs) also sees plenty of action in the run-heavy system.
Jordan Taylor (411 yards) and Sam McGuffie (337 yards, five TDs) each have 30 receptions or more and are McHargue's go-to guys. Vance McDonald (249 yards) and Donte Moore (210 yards, two TDs) have also been productive.
Despite giving up just 14 points in back-to-back weeks, Rice still has one of the worst defenses in the nation, ranking 106th with 35.1 ppg allowed.
Paul Porras has a team-high 59 tackles while also adding seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Bryce Callahan has accounted for two of the Owls' 11 takeaways with a pair of interceptions.
Tulsa has one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the country, ranking 13th with 41.1 ppg.
The Golden Hurricane has found success behind a lethal rushing attack (250.7 ypg). Ja'Terian Douglas (533 yards, five TDs) and Trey Watts (507 yards, two TDs) have shown big-play ability. Alex Singleton (95 carries, 432 yards) may not have as high a yards per carry average as Douglas or Watts, but his 13 rushing touchdowns are tied for second most in the country.
With a run-first offense, Cody Green is not asked to do much, which is probably a good thing considering he hasn't looked sharp (52.2 percent completions, six interceptions). On the positive side of things, he has thrown 10 touchdown passes.
Five players have at least 176 receiving yards, led by Keyarris Garrett (25 receptions, 325 yards, four TDs).
The defense hasn't been spectacular (25.9 ppg, 381.3 ypg), but it's played well enough to win games. The unit has made big plays in the backfield however with 69 tackles for loss, 33 sacks and 10 fumble recoveries.
DeAundre Brown has been one of the best linebackers in the country, filling up the stat sheet with 69 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and an interception. He is also the reigning C-USA Defensive Player of the Week after racking up 14 tackles in the win over UTEP. Jared St. John is right behind Brown with seven sacks.
Rice's confidence may be running high after a win, but now it has to play in one of the most hostile stadiums in the conference against a red-hot team. The Owls need to run the ball to be successful, but Tulsa's defense is strongest against the run (103.3 ypg). Behind a unrelenting running game of their own, the Golden Hurricane should have no problem continuing their first place run.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 44, Rice 20
10/17 10:43:34 ET