Rice (1-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Joe Aillet Stadium (30,600) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Rice 0-1, LaTech 0-0. Away Record: Rice 1-0, LaTech 1-0. Neutral Record: Rice 0-0, LaTech 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-0, LaTech 0-0. Series Record: Rice leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls look to make it two in a row as they head to Joe Aillet Stadium for a non-conference duel with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Rice's season began with a pair of battles with BCS programs. The Owls fell, 49-24, in their season opening bout with the UCLA Bruins. However, they picked up their first win of the season as Chris Boswell connected on a 45-yard field goal as time expired to lift Rice to a 25-24 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks in a thriller in Lawrence last time out. The Owls showed drastic improvement on both sides of the ball versus the Jayhawks. Head coach David Bailiff enters the contest with a 24-39 record as the school's head coach.
Louisiana Tech's originally scheduled season opener against Texas A&M was postponed by Hurricane Isaac. The Bulldogs showed no signs of rust when they finally hit the field. They picked up a 56-49 victory over Houston in a high- scoring and record breaking shootout. The 209 plays combined between Houston (115) and Louisiana Tech (94) broke a 41-year old NCAA record for most plays by both teams. The pass heavy affair also set new NCAA records with 129 pass attempts without an interception and most passes completed (87). Coach Sonny Dykes has a 14-12 record since being hired prior to the 2010 season.
This will be just the sixth matchup between Rice and LaTech in history. Rice holds a narrow 3-2 lead after the Bulldogs rolled to a 51-14 victory in the last meeting on Nov. 29,2004. Although these programs have not squared off since 2004, they will become much more familiar foes next season when LA Tech joins the Conference USA.
Junior Taylor McHargue is the leader of the Owls' offensive attack this season. The quarterback was relegated to the bench due to poor decision-making and injuries in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he appears to have matured into an experienced field general.
McHargue is the team's leading passer and rushing with a production average of 260.5 yards of total offense per game. The junior signal caller is coming off of one of the best fourth quarter performances of his career, as he led the offense down the field twice and put Boswell in position for the game winning field goal attempt in Rice's comeback victory.
Boswell's clutch kicking not only won the game for Rice, it also gave him 33 career made field goals to tie him with James Hamrick for the all-time program lead.
Jordan Taylor has been McHargue's favorite target so far, tallying 11 catches for 148 yards. Vance McDonald (98 yards, six receptions) and Sam McGuffie (78 yards, 11 receptions) both play vital roles in Rice's passing game as well.
After rushing for just two yards on two carries in the season opener, Charles Ross exploded versus Kansas, rushing 14 times for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The Owls were led by the big plays of Bryce Callahan in their win over Kansas. Callahan recorded two interceptions, including one with 3:47 left to play that set up the game-winning field goal. Rice's defensive unit allowed UCLA to compile 646 yards in its season opener, but it bounced back to hold Kansas to only 339 yards.
The Bulldogs will be much tougher to contain than Rice's previous opponent. LaTech amassed 598 total yards and 56 points against Houston. Senior QB Colby Cameron completed 34-of-52 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
Eight different receivers had multiple catches and 25 or more receiving yards in the contest. Myles White finished with a team-high 74 yards, while Quinton Patton contributed 36 yards on four catches.
LaTech managed to rush the ball effectively as well, thanks to Tevin King and Kenneth Dixon. It seemed like every time King touched the ball he made a play as he carried the ball 13 times for 112 yards and three scores. Dixon rushed a team-high 18 times for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Although the Bulldogs seemingly could not be stopped offensively, their defensive unit surrendered a monstrous 580 yards and four scores through the air to the Cougars. The poor showing gives LaTech the worst passing defense and total defense statistics in the nation heading into Saturday.
Despite their strong showing versus Kansas and LaTech's porous defense in its opener, the Owls are big underdogs on the road in this one. McHargue has a history of inconsistent play, while LaTech rarely turns the ball over. Rice's defense will need to pressure Cameron into mistakes to keep the Bulldogs from lighting up the scoreboard.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 38, Rice 20
09/12 10:37:46 ET