The Rice Owls (2-3, 1-1) will travel to the Sunshine State to face the Florida Atlantic Owls (1-3, 1-0) in Conference USA action Saturday afternoon. Rice beat Florida Atlantic 18-14 in the most recent matchup between the teams on September 28, 2013; Florida Atlantic covered the line as they were a 14.5 point underdog.
Rice was obliterated 49-10 by Western Kentucky at home last week. Florida Atlantic picked up their first win of the season as they downed Charlotte 17-7 on the road. This game is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 pm ET from the FAU Football Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida and will not be televised nationally. Florida Atlantic is currently a 3.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 58 points.
Rice was badly outplayed in their loss to Western Kentucky as they allowed 28 straight points after opening the game with a field goal. They trailed 35-10 at the half and failed to score after intermission. Rice was outgained 504-322 in the contest and committed five turnovers while failing to generate a takeaway in the game. The Owls couldn’t stop the Hilltoppers, who had five scoring drives cover more than 70 yards in the game. Rice allowed 24 first downs and let Brandon Doughty throw for 409 yards and four touchdowns.
The Owls put up an average of 227.6 yards per game through the air and 199.4 yards per contest on the ground. Rice averages 29 points per game but after their trouncing by Baylor and Western Kentucky, they’re allowing 40.2 points per contest, which leaves them tied for 119th in the nation. Driphus Jackson has completed 71 of 114 passes for 837 yards with six touchdowns and four picks while rushing for 65 yards and a score. Tyler Stehling is 19 of 31 passing for 282 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Owls are led by Samuel Stewart on the ground as he has 57 carries for 282 yards and three scores; Darik Dillard contributes 48 carries for 216 yards and three scores of his own. Austin Walter (30 carries, 193 yards, TD) and Jowan Davis (38 carries, 164 yards) are capable backs as well. Dennis Parks is the top receiving threat for Rice with 23 receptions for 370 yards and three scores; Temi Alaka (14 grabs, 130 yards, TD) and Zach Wright (10 receptions, 175 yards, TD) are the only other players with double digit catches for the Owls. Jack Fox and Hayden Tobola have combined to hit all 20 extra points and three of five field goal attempts.
Florida Atlantic got the win but it was more due to their opponent being slightly worse than the Owls rather than a solid offensive performance. The Owls were outgained in the game 200-172; they turned the ball over five times but forced seven turnovers in the contest. Florida Atlantic gave up a pick six for Charlotte’s only points but made up for that with a pick six of their own in the game. The Owls had their scoring drives start at the Charlotte 30 and 19 yard line.
The Owls put up 239.5 yards per game through the air and 164 yards per contest on the ground this season. Florida Atlantic averages 24 points per game but they rank 99th in scoring defense as they allow 32.8 points per contest. Two quarterbacks have seen a near split of the reps; they’ve combined to hit 54.7 percent of their throws for 958 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions. Greg Howell has stepped in as the team’s leading rusher with 70 carries for 352 yards plus two scores; Jay Warren (35 carries, 182 yards, 2 TD) is the normal starter when he’s healthy. Jenson Stoshak is the team’s leading receiver with 22 grabs for 311 yards and a touchdown; Kalib Woods (13 receptions, 119 yards, TD) and Kamrin Solomon (11 catches, 167 yards, TD) are in the mix as well. Greg Joseph is 10 of 10 on extra points and six of nine on field goals on the year.
Rice is 5-1 ATS in their last six after an ATS loss, 5-1 ATS in their last six after allowing at least 40 points, 10-2 ATS in their last 12 in October, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up loss and 4-1 ATS in their last five road games against teams with a losing record. Florida Atlantic is 4-10 ATS in their last 14 after allowing less than 20 points, 1-4 ATS in their last five after an ATS win, 0-4 ATS in their last four at home, and 0-4 ATS in their last four on grass.
Florida Atlantic got a win in their last game but they aren’t going to force seven turnovers on a regular basis. Rice was flat against the Hilltoppers but they can play much better than they did in that game. It’s unclear what the ceiling is for Florida Atlantic but it’s lower than Rice’s; take the points and Rice in this one.