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Author : azsfsfds
Publish Date : 2020-11-21


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The Rice Owls have had a week off and are no doubt ready to get back on the field. The Owls and the North Texas Mean Green will face off in a Conference USA battle at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday at Apogee Stadium. Both teams seek to continue their momentum from their previous wins.

Rice made easy work of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles three weeks ago and carried off a 30-6 victory. The oddsmakers were on Rice's side, but they didn't give the team enough credit as the margin was unexpectedly wide.

Meanwhile, North Texas turned the game against the Middle Tenn. Blue Raiders into a track meet and took the gold after outgaining them 768 yards to 432. North Texas had enough points to win and then some against Middle Tenn. five weeks ago, taking their game 52-35. The win came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 21-7 deficit. QB Jason Bean was a one-man wrecking crew for the Mean Green, passing for two TDs and 181 yards on 17 attempts in addition to rushing for three TDs and 169 yards.

The wins brought the Owls up to 1-1 and North Texas to 1-3. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: Rice is still looking to earn their first rushing touchdown. To make matters even worse for Rice, North Texas ranks third in the nation when it comes to yards per game, with 593.6 on average

Why Rice Will Win

The Owns haven’t been able to get anything going this year with just two games so far, but the passing game hasn’t been all that bad.

Mike Collins threw four touchdown passes in each of the two games and hit plenty of downfield plays in the win over Southern Miss on Halloween.

Coming into the season, the receiving corps was a sneaky-good positive with the upside to hit a whole lot of home runs, and starting with Austin Trammell – en catches for 219 yards and five scores – it’s happening. Now they get to go against a secondary that allowed 306 yards per game, and isn’t any better against the run. But …

– CFN Experts Picks, Predictions: Week 12
Why North Texas Will Win

The North Texas offense is unstoppable. The defense might give up yards and points faster than the O can work, but the air show has been a blast over 300 yards in each of the first five games and 14 touchdown passes.

The passing game is the best in Conference USA, the running game is the best in the conference, too, and the 594 total yards per game are the third-best in the nation. They’re going to set the pace, but can Rice keep up?
What’s Going To Happen

Yeah, Rice can make this very, very fun.

Expect the two passing games to trade haymakers all game long, and have a good time enjoying the show between two teams that haven’t had a whole lot of luck this season getting on the field.

It’s been several weeks since Rice was able to play, and North Texas hasn’t played since October 17th. These two will bring the energy.

Two Conference USA teams will face off against each other on Saturday as the Rice Owls travel to Apogee Stadium to take on the North Texas Mean Green. Rice enters this game with a 1-1 record after not playing for each of the last two weeks while North Texas enters this game with a 2-3 record after not playing for about a month. This will be the 11th meeting between both teams.

Rice Looks To Get Over .500
Rice enters this game following an easy road victory against Southern Miss by 24 points. In that game, Rice's defense was amazing as it only allowed six points along with just 269 total yards of offense. Leading the way offensively was quarterback Mike Collins who had four passing touchdowns. Now, the Owls will be looking for their first winning record of the season with another solid performance on Saturday. However, Rice has not played since October 31 so one has to wonder if rust will have a serious impact on its performance.

Rice's offense has been very underrated this season as it currently ranks 45th in the nation as it is averaging 32.0 points per game. In addition, the Owls are averaging 181.0 rushing yards per game which ranks 50th in the nation which has allowed them to set up manageable third downs on a regular basis.

Game Notes

Time and Date: Saturday, November 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Network: ESPN3

Location: Apogee Stadium — Denton, TX

Spread: North Texas (-1.5)

ESPN FPI: Rice has 67.7% chance to win

All-time series: Series tied, 5-5

Last meeting: Rice 20, North Texas 14 — November 23, 2019

The teams will meet for the second year in a row on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Rice pulled off its lone home victory of 2019 when North Texas paid a visit to Houston last November, snapping the Mean Green’s 3-game win streak in the series.

It’s been too long.

The Rice Owls and North Texas Mean Green have prepared for a slew of opponents this season that they may never face. There have been weeks of game prep thrown out the window due to COVID-19 cancelations, many of which have been within 48 hours of kickoff. As a result, neither program has taken the field since October.

North Texas has faced an dreaded uphill battle in returning to the field. Two postponements and one cancelation separate the Mean Green from their most recent on-field action on Oct. 17. Last time North Texas played, Rice’s football season hadn’t even commenced.

The Owls were the final C-USA team to take the field in 2020, playing consecutive weeks on Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. The past two weeks, Rice was struck with consecutive postponements due to COVID-19 issues within UTSA and Louisiana Tech. Saturday’s matchup in Denton will be Rice’s first game in three weeks and North Texas’ first in five weeks.
Rice Owls outlook

After suffering a heartbreak in Houston against Middle Tennessee on a missed “quadruple doink” field goal, Rice (1-1, 1-1 C-USA) recovered and played its most complete game of the Mike Bloomgren era. The Owls annihilated Southern Miss in Hattiesburg 30-6, winning by their largest margin against an FBS opponent since 2014.

After ranking 123rd in scoring offense last season with under 18 points per game, Rice’s offense has undergone a dramatic renovation. The Owls have back-to-back 30-point games in a season for the first time in six years and rank third in the C-USA with 32.0 points per contest.

The offensive renovation can be directly attributed to the arrival of Mike Collins. The former TCU grad transfer quarterback has molded into the pocket passer head coach Mike Bloomgren had searched for since arriving at Rice three years ago. In 2019, Rice fired 13 touchdown passes in 12 games. Collins is on pace to shatter that total even in a shortened-season, delivering eight touchdown strikes through two games in 2020.

Collins wasn’t required to throw much in the blowout win over Southern Miss, but when he did, he made them count. He averaged nearly 20 yards per completion, connecting on 12 of 17 passes for 233 yards.

His favorite target has already been established as wide receiver Austin Trammell, and the two form one of the best connections in the conference. Over a third of Collins’ completions this season have landed in Trammell’s hands, and the senior captain was responsible for the majority of Collins’ passing numbers in Hattiesburg. Trammell caught seven passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns that game — heightening his stat-line to 219 yards and five touchdowns in two appearances this year.

Even with Trammell’s domination, Rice maintains a balanced offense. The Owls’ power run game is spearheaded by Juma Otoviano, who hovers around 100 rushing yards per game. This year, Otoviano has taken over as the workhorse back but Rice will mix things up with other rushers. Freshman Khalan Griffin has excelled as the secondary back in limited action and seems poised for a breakout game at any moment.

Wildcat quarterback JoVoni Johnson is an explosive runner as well and has done well moving the ball in 3rd and short situations. Lastly, if Rice needs one yard, the best option is superback Jordan Myers. Primarily a tight end, Myers is capable of lining up anywhere on the field and has been a master at moving the sticks on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 opportunities. Myers is also second on the team in receptions and operates as the Owls’ ideal short-yardage receiving target.

While the offense has drastically sharpened this season, defense remains the identity of the Owls. In the opener against Middle Tennessee, the rust was evident but the unit quickly recovered against Southern Miss, forcing the Golden Eagles out of the end zone in the game’s entirety.

North Texas is familiar with the tenaciousness. In the prior meeting with North Texas, Rice shut out Mason Fine and the Mean Green in the opening half. In the second half, the Owls defense forced a turnover on downs in the red zone to secure a 20-14 victory. North Texas was limited to 75 rushing yards, 163 passing yards, and two turnovers in the defeat.

Rice is especially stout at the linebacker position. Outside linebacker Blaze Alldredge has continued his tackling pace from last season, checking in atop the roster with 21 tackles. Antonio Montero has been pivotal at stopping the run as well with 17 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. The Mean Green present a capable rushing trio in DeAndre Torrey (6.6 yards per carry), Tre Siggers (4.3), and Oscar Adaway III (8.9), and this will be the most talented halfback unit the linebackers have seen this year.

The strongest area of improvement within Rice’s defense can be witnessed on the defensive line. Increased pressure has been felt by opposing quarterbacks this year with Trey Schuman, Kenneth Orji, and Ikenna Enechukwu stepping up as pass rushers. As a team, Rice is averaging two sacks per game last season — a notch above the 1.2 sacks per game produced in 2019

 

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