Rice (2-3) at Army (2-3) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Michie Stadium (38,000) — West Point, New York.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Rice 1-1, Army 2-0. Away Record: Rice 1-2,
Army 0-3. Neutral Record: Rice 0-0, Army 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 1-1,
Army 0-0. Series Record: Rice leads, 2-1-1.

GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls take aim at their third straight victory on Saturday
when they visit the Army Black Knights in a non-conference matchup at Michie

The Owls, who were the Conference USA champions last season, got off to a
miserable start to the 2014 campaign, falling in their first three games. That
included a 45-42 setback against new conference foe Old Dominion. Rice has
found more success the last two weeks with wins over Southern Miss (41-23) and
Hawaii (28-14).

Army put a three-game losing streak of its own to bed last weekend, as it
toppled Ball State, 33-24. The Black Knights are 2-3 overall, with both wins
coming on their home turf and all three losses occurring away from West Point.

These two squads last met during the 2008 season when Rice pulled out a 38-31
victory at home. The Owls own a slight edge in a short-lived series (2-1-1).

In its victory over Hawaii, Rice was limited to less than 400 yards of total
offense, which is off the offensive pace (432 ypg) it has been on this season.
However, the offensive production was enough to secure a win, especially with
the Owls scoring touchdowns on all three of their trips to the red zone.

The biggest strength of Rice’s offense is a rushing attack that has generated
1,025 yards and nine touchdowns on 241 attempts. Darik Dillard (334 yards,
five TDs) is the most potent scorer, and he led the way with 141 yards and two
scores against Hawaii. Jowan Davis (440 yards, two TDs) is still the team’s
leading rusher and the first player on the roster to reach 100 carries.

Quarterback Driphus Jackson has netted 161 yards out of the backfield to
supplement his satisfactory work as a passer. In five games, he has tallied
976 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 59.3 percent of his pass
attempts. He has been picked off three times while ranking ninth in C-USA in
passing yards per game (195.2).

Mario Hull (12 receptions, 228 yards, two TDs) is the most exciting option in
the passing game, averaging an even 19 yards per reception. James Mayden (four
receptions, 145 yards, two TDs) has made the most of his limited chances, as
Dennis Parks (16 receptions, 155 yards), Zach Wright (14 receptions, 172
yards, two TDs) and Davis (10 receptions, 98 yards) are targeted more often.

Rice didn’t need to pile up the yards against Hawaii in part because of how
well the defense played. The Owls limited the Rainbow Warriors to 261 yards
and kept them out of the end zone on two of four visits to the red zone. It
was an excellent improvement for the Owls, who are allowing 33.6 points and
433.4 yards per game overall.

Brian Nordstrom (6.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks) and Graysen Schantz (5.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks)
have provided the Owls with solid options in the pass rush.

Rice will need its players up front to be at their best against an Army team
that pounds the ball on the ground. The Black Knights, like the other service
academies, relies on a triple-option offensive scheme that has netted the
third-most rushing yards in the country (1,691). They are also averaging 28.8
points per game.

Quarterbacks Angel Santiago and A.J. Schurr have each gotten plenty of chances
to run the show, with Santiago rushing for 360 yards and five scores and
Schurr totaling 215 yards and three touchdowns. Santiago was the better of
the two against Ball State, finishing with 89 yards and a score on 13 carries.

However, Larry Dixon is the workhorse in the backfield, as he leads the team
in carries (90) and rushing yards (526), while finding his way into the end
zone four times. His 188-yard effort against Ball State was a season-high.

Terry Baggett (211 yards, TD) and Raymond Maples (122 yards, TD) offer depth.

On the rare occasion Army does draw up a pass play, Santiago is the better
option, having completed 18-of-23 attempts for 288 yards. Schurr has only
seven completions.

It is difficult to win consistently with such a plodding offense, especially
if the opposition is moving up the field with relative ease. Unfortunately,
Army has had some issues in that area, allowing 34.2 points and 451.4 yards
each game.

Jeremy Timpf is a viable playmaker for the unit, leading the team in tackles
(46), tackles for loss (5.5) and interceptions (three).

Both of these teams like to run so there won’t be a lot of passing in this
one, meaning a low-scoring game should be expected. The Owls have a few more
wrinkles to their attack than do the Black Knights, which could be the key.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 24, Army 20