The result: Rice 45, UTEP 7
The records: Rice 6-2, 4-0 in Conference USA. UTEP is 1-6, 0-4 in C-USA.
The significance: While becoming bowl eligible for the second straight season is a meaningful accomplishment, the biggest reason to celebrate Saturday was the Owls did not allow UTEP to hang around. Rice scored in all four quarters and finally exhibited the ability to throw a knockout punch. Keeping pace with Tulane for the Conference USA West title also was huge.
The grade: A-: This was arguably the best offensive game of the season with quarterback Taylor McHargue mixing in long passes with Rice’s stout run game. The defense gave up a considerable amount of yards (364) but buckled down to create turnovers and prevent the Minors from scoring more than one touchdown. The final margin was the largest win for Rice in its Conference USA history.
The play: Rice led 17-7 in with a little over a minute left in the second quarter. UTEP’s Aaron Jones had broken off an 81-yard run to give the Miners a first and goal at the Rice 3. Jones was stopped for no gain on first down. Jones again got the carry on second down, but Michael Kutzler forced a fumble, which Rice sophomore defensive lineman Ross Winship recovered at the 1. UTEP didn’t get into the red zone the rest of the game.
The good stat: 32.5: The average number of passing yards on Rice completions.
The bad stat: 6-43: Rice committed six penalties for 43 yards. Two of the infractions gave UTEP first downs.
The X-factor: In an inspiring moment, Jayson Carter, the shortest player in the FBS, received his first college carry. The 4-foot-9 Carter has been a member of the Rice scout team the past three seasons. He gained one yard in a fourth quarter running play and then received a hearty round of congratulations from his teammates.
The David Bailiff quote: “I was really pleased with how we responded in the second half. I think we came out and made plays – we had a bunch of people make plays today. The offensive line protected well, Charles Ross was amazing again – he had 150-plus rushing yards again, it was good to see Jordan Taylor get back involved – he's a big receiver, and he's playing big for us right now.”
The Player quote (Jordan Taylor. WR) “We knew they were going to try and test us at the wide receiver position. Taylor McHargue did a really good job putting the ball out there every time. We finally just connected.”
The UTEP quote: (Aaron Johnson, running back) “That was tough, Jameill is a natural leader.” referring to a shoulder injury that knocked starting quarterback Jameill Showers out of the game.
The game story: can be found here.
The fun fact: Rice is now eligible for a bowl game for the second straight season. The only time Rice has gone to bowl games in consecutive seasons was 1960 and 1961.
The overall series: Rice 11, UTEP 6
Rice Examiner Players of the Game:
1. Jordan Taylor- 4 catches for 185 yards, 3 touchdowns
2. Charles Ross- 21 carries for 153 yards, touchdown
3. Paul Porras- 10 tackles, forced fumble, tackle for loss
Up Next: Road game at North Texas, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Fox Sports 1