GAME NOTES: Charlie Weis attempts to improve to 2-0 as the head coach of
Kansas as his Jayhawks welcome the Rice Owls to Memorial Stadium for a non-
conference battle on Saturday.
The Owls aim to even up their early season record suffering a 49-24 loss to
Jim Mora's UCLA Bruins at home in their opener. Coach David Bailiff's team
finished 4-8 and missed the bowl season for the third consecutive year in
2011. Rice's loss to the Bruins was highlighted by excellent special teams
play. The Owls enters this week's contest versus Kansas with the two longest
streaks in the country due to a lack of production in the return game. Rice
has gone 309 games without a kick return for a touchdown and a 167 games
without a punt return for a score.
Kansas was not overwhelming in its 31-17 season opening win over South Dakota
State on Saturday. Nonetheless, the Weis era was officially kicked off with a
victory as the former Notre Dame coach took over after spending 2011 as
Florida's offensive coordinator. The Jayhawks have been very successful
against non-Big 12 competition in recent years, winning 25 of their last 30
non-league games. KU started last season out with two victories over McNeese
State and Northern Illinois before it ended the season with 10 straight
losses. Weis experienced just one losing season in the five years he spent at
The Owls and Jayhawks met just once before, on Dec. 16, 1961 in the Bluebonnet
Bowl. Kansas downed Rice, 33-7, in that game for its first bowl win in program
history. Rice is 0-20 versus members of the Big 12 since the league was
created in 1996.
Rice's offense was led by junior Taylor McHargue in its opener. The Owls'
quarterback completed 17-of-28 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns with
one interception. McHargue also set a new career-high in rushing yards (95)
despite being sacked six times.
The Owls welcomed back 2010's leading rusher and receiver, Sam McGuffie, for
its matchup with UCLA. McGuffie, now playing wideout exclusively, missed all
of last season with an injury. He led all receivers in the contest with 63
yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
Defensively, Rice did not look to be much better than last season's squad
which allowed 462.1 yards and 33.3 points per game. New defensive coordinator
Chris Thurmond's team appeared helpless as UCLA amassed 646 total yards (343
rushing, 303 passing).
The linebacking tandem of Cameron Nwosu and Kyle Prater tied for a team-high
with nine total tackles each. Nwosu also set a new NCAA record with three
blocked extra points and recorded an interception. Defensive end Jared
Williams applies consistent pressure on the QB and had a sack and fumble
recovery in the opener.
Former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist made his first start for Kansas against South
Dakota State. The senior started out with a 43-yard pass to Kale Pick, but he
finished completing only 17-of-36 attempts for 169 yards and a touchdown with
Pick finished with a team-high 81 yards, while fellow receivers Daymond
Patterson and D.J. Beshears got into the mix with a total of nine receptions
between the two.
KU's struggles to move the ball through the air were alleviated by the success
of Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox on the ground. In the sophomore's second start,
Pierson rushed for a career-high 124 yards and two scores on 20 carries. Cox
also excelled with 121 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
The Jayhawks held the Jackrabbits to 17 points, but allowed their FCS opponent
to rush for 204 yards and gain 411 total yards. KU's inability to stop the run
should not be a huge issue against the pass-friendly Owls, but it will be an
issue down the line.
Free safety Bradley McDonald led the way with six tackles and two
interceptions against SDSU. Tyler Patmon and Corrigan Powell also managed to
record an interception to help the Jayhawks hold a plus-3 advantage in
Like their opponent, the Jayhawks made some big plays in the special teams
game and blocked two punts versus South Dakota State.
Although Kansas failed to run away from inferior competition in week one, the
Jayhawks match up with Rice much better. The Owls need one of their tailbacks
to emerge and establish a rushing attack against KU's shaky rush defense for
Rice to have a shot of snapping its 20-game losing streak against Big 12 foes.