FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice Stadium (47,000) — Houston, Texas.
Television: FSN. Home Record: UNT 2-2, Rice 1-1. Away Record: UNT 0-3, Rice
2-2. Neutral Record: UNT 0-0, Rice 0-0. Conference Record: UNT 0-3, Rice 1-1.
Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: Two teams trending in opposite directions will meet up at Rice
Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Rice Owls play host to the North Texas
Mean Green in Conference USA action.
Since a modest 2-2 start to the campaign, North Texas has hit a slide in
recent weeks with three straight losses to dip to 0-3 in league action. The
Mean Green most recently dropped a 30-20 home decision versus Southern Miss
last weekend, and now they head back out on the road where they are winless in
Meanwhile, Rice has turned its season around of late, rebounding from an 0-3
start to pull to .500 with three consecutive victories. The Owls earned their
first C-USA win of the season at Southern Miss on Sept. 27 (41-23) then
followed that up with a pair of non-conference triumphs over Hawaii (28-14)
and Army (41-21).
Each team has defeated the other twice in the all-time series. In the first
meeting as C-USA rivals last October, North Texas came away with a 28-16
Although North Texas’ yearly offensive numbers are respectable (30.4 ppg,
349.9 ypg), a 77-point outburst against Nicholls State on Sept. 20 has skewed
those averages. The unit amassed 395 yards last week but managed to score just
Andrew McNulty earned the start last week under center and threw for 287 yards
on 20-of-35 passing. McNulty is completing 55.6 percent of his passes this
season for 509 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Dajon Williams
(.592 completions, 603 yards, seven TDs, four INTs) and Josh Greer (.480, 171
yards, two INTs) are also in the mix.
The carousel of quarterbacks has not hindered Carlos Harris’ great season, as
he ranks first in C-USA in receiving yards (558) and tied for third in catches
(42) while scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Antoinne Jimmerson (385 yards, four TDs) and Reggie Pegram (289 yards, four
TDs) have split work evenly in the backfield with 73 carries apiece.
The Mean Green’s defense has not stood out this season, allowing 32.0 ppg and
396.9 ypg, although the unit has been solid in the takeaway battle with eight
interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
Derek Akunne has nearly twice as many tackles as any of his teammates with 65
stops to go with two forced fumbles. James Jones (34 tackles) has a pair of
interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Chad Polk has recorded 4.5 sacks.
Since scoring 17 points or less in its first two games of the season, Rice’s
offense has caught fire by scoring 40 points or more in three of its last four
contests, upping its season averages to 29.8 ppg and 425.2 ypg.
Orchestrating the offensive attack is Driphus Jackson, who’s completing 61.1
percent of his passes for 1,185 yards with 11 touchdowns and just three
interceptions. He’s also picked up 190 rushing yards, and he had the best
outing of his career in the team’s latest win over Army (15-of-21, 209 yards,
three TDs, zero INTs).
The Owls are a run-heavy team, picking up 201.2 ypg on the ground. Jowan Davis
is a workhorse with 121 carries for 517 yards and two touchdowns, and Darik
Dillard also earns plenty of work with 407 yards and six scores on 74
A modest receiving corps is led by Zach Wright (19 receptions, 219 yards, two
TDs) and Mario Hull (14 receptions, 265 yards, three TDs).
Much like the offense, Rice’s defense (31.5 ppg, 418.0 ypg) is trending in the
right direction by allowing just 19.3 ppg during its three-game winning
Sixteen players have double-digit tackles, led by Jaylon Finner and his 30
stops. Brian Nordstrom anchors the defensive line with 8.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks.
Rice has shown great improvement and is playing its best football of the year,
while North Texas is experiencing the opposite, meaning the Owls should have
no problem coming away victorious in front of their home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 41, North Texas 23