Experienced Rice looking for back to back Bowl games

The Rice Owls have not been known for being a winning program, and they have only had seven winning seasons since 1961. But under head coach David Baliff they had a winning season last year, and are poised to make another run at a winning season this year. With 19 returning starters and a softer schedule in conference this year, it looks like the Rice Owls will be poised to surpass the seven win total from last year and reach a 2nd straight bowl game since 1960-1961.

Luckily for the Owls, they return senior quarterback Taylor McHargue who threw for 2,000 yards last season and looks to match that total this season. The Owls also look to put some impressive rushing numbers up with their “wild Owl” formation. Look for senior running back Turner Petersen to run the wild Owl, and for Senior Charles Ross to see most of the carries in the backfield. While they didn’t get a 1,000 yard rusher last year, I wouldn’t think they have much chance getting that this year either, but getting back to the 800 yard mark for Ross will but a nice bow on his time at Rice.

Luckily for McHargue his top target from 2012 will return this year and look to continue making impressive catches to keep the ball moving. Junior Jordan Taylor will be most experienced receiver on the line, but there are some weapons that can get open and make plays for the Owls. The offensive line returns fully intact this year and will look to put up impressive numbers in the rushing game and keep opposing defenses from getting in the backfield. If the O-line can keep the backfield clear, then look for the Owls to be one of the more explosive teams in Conference USA.

Along with the offense, the defense is coming back mostly intact; they return 10 defensive starters from last year and look to improve their defensive numbers. The defensive line returns nine of the top 11 players from last year and will look to make their mark this year. Senior defensive end Cody Bauer looks to put more impressive numbers from last season and become the catalyst of the d-line for the Owls. The Line backing corps is more experienced this year thanks to some injury problems last season where the guys down the depth chart were able to see quality playing time. I would look for Cameron Nwosu and James Radcliffe to put up impressive numbers and be staples in the opposing team’s backfield.

As with the rest of the defense, the entire two deep returns in the secondary and will be able to blanket the opposing team’s receivers to keep them from making the big plays downfield. This will be a very experienced defense and they will look to keep the points scored low, so Rice will have a shot to win close games. After last season, things are looking up for Rice and I would look for them to be a surprise team in Conference USA.

With the experience of the team and the scheduling, it would be tough to not call Rice an improved team from last season. They should be able to win at least eight games this year and if they catch a couple breaks, they may win more than that. The Rice Owls may not be in position to win the conference, but they will be a team who will make it tough and can’t be marked down as an easy “W”.

8/31- At Texas A&M- L
9/14- Kansas- W
9/21- Houston- L
9/28- Fl. Atlantic- W
10/5- At Tulsa- L
10/12- At UTSA- W
10/19- At NM St- W
10/26- UTEP- W
11/2- At N. Texas- W
11/16- La. Tech- L
11/21- UAB- W
11/30- Tulane- W
2013 Record: 8-4



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