NCAA College Football Preview: Rice Owls vs. Texas A&M Aggies
For Rice University football, the struggle for wins has always been too real — as was illustrated by their 1-5 start last season. But that team displayed a tremendous amount of resiliency by finishing with a 7-6 record, including a 33-14 win over Air Force Academy in the Armed Forces Bowl.
But, it isn’t as if Rice is the worst football program in the world. They just can’t stop anybody. According to USA Today, the Rice Owls have allowed 48 points or more 35 times since 2000. Rice is only 2-33 in such high scoring affairs — which is awful. That’s not to say they don’t have studs on the “hit ‘em” side of the ball, though.
Phillip Gaines was named the Conference USA preseason Defensive Player of the Year. But when you’re playing against the likes of UTEP and Texas-San Antonio, something has got to give. When Rice wins, it’s mostly because of its offense, at least traditionally.
Last season, Rice was ranked 29th in the nation in rushing offense. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Owls stalwart defensive effort against the vaunted Falcons’ running game during the Armed Forces Bowl, however.
Once upon a time, during the teenage years of our forefathers, Texas A&M was at the very pinnacle of college football. The late great Bear Bryant helped thrust the program into the national spotlight over 50 years ago. These days, the spotlight seems to repeatedly fall on 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
At first, it was all good in the College Station hood as Manziel became the only freshman, and the youngest player ever to win the Heisman. Then things took a turn for the worse as allegations of Manziel’s off-the-field behavior began to become weekly fodder for the cable sports networks. Visions of a beleaguered Aggies’ head coach Kevin Sumlin explaining away the actions of his precocious star player are still dancing in our heads. So too are allegations of Manziel accepting money for signing autographs. Well, as it turns out, all that hub-bub was much ado about nothing. However, Manziel is said to have committed a lesser violation.
As a result, the NCAA (or Texas A&M) has handed down a half-game suspension to be served during the first half of the Aggies season-opener versus Rice.
So, the Aggies will face the Rice Owls without their star quarterback for one half? Not a problem. The Texas A&M defense will extinguish any hopes Rice might have of running the ball early. Rice will then try to get the ball to WR Jordan Taylor. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Taylor has all the makings of a pro wideout. But QB Taylor McHargue can stand to be a bit more accurate than his 59 percent completion rate from last season.
Meanwhile, Southlake Carroll product Matt Joeckel will likely step in for Manziel in the first half. But I don’t see him doing much passing. Look for the Aggies to run over, under and around the Rice Owls’ defense. The Aggies will likely be up two touchdowns by the time Manziel enters the game. Once that happens, Texas A&M’s 12 Man gets their juices going, and it’s good night Irene for the Owls.
Aggies win in a laugher, 35-7.
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