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Kansas (1-0) at Rice (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice Stadium (47,000) -- Houston, Texas. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: KU 1-0, Rice 0-0. Away Record: KU 0-0, Rice 0-1. Neutral Record: KU 0-0, Rice 0-0. Conference Record: KU 0-0, Rice 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Rice Owls play their first home game of the season, as they entertain the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday night.
Kansas opened up its season last Saturday at home with a strong 31-14 win over South Dakota, erasing an early deficit by putting up 24 unanswered points and never looking back. It was a great start for the Jayhawks, who ended the 2012 season on an 11-game losing streak.
Rice had the unenviable task of playing Texas A&M in its opener on Aug. 31, and it managed to keep the game close while Johnny Manziel served a first-half suspension. The return of the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback after intermission spelled doom for the Owls, however, as they could not keep up with the Aggies and eventually fell, 52-31. The setback snapped a five-game win streak that the program had put together to close out the 2012 campaign.
The all-time series between these two squads is knotted at one game apiece, with Rice beating Kansas last year, 25-24.
After a sluggish start in last week's opener, Kansas picked up the pace as the game went along, finishing with 390 yards while scoring on 4-of-5 trips to the red zone.
The rushing attack did the majority of the damage, racking up 280 yards on 50 carries (5.6 ypc). James Sims -- one of the few Jayhawks who put together a noteworthy campaign in 2012 (1,013 yards, nine TDs) -- had a strong season debut with 94 yards and two touchdowns. Darrian Miller was also impressive with 72 yards on 14 totes.
Jake Heaps, a transfer from BYU, was lackluster in his debut under center, completing just half of his pass attempts (10-of-20) for 110 yards and a touchdown, although he did go without a turnover.
Tony Pierson was the team's leading receiver with a modest two receptions for 32 yards. Justin McCay (two rec., 12 yards) hauled in Heaps' lone scoring strike.
Although the performance came against an FCS program, the Jayhawks' defensive effort was nonetheless impressive, as the unit yielded just 286 total yards.
Keon Stowers secured a key interception, the first of his career, while Victor Simmons led the way with eight tackles.
For much of its opener, Rice was able to keep pace with the high-flying Aggies offensively. The squad tallied 509 total yards, displaying a solid balance between the run (306 yards) and the pass (203 yards). It also held a nearly 17-minute edge in time of possession.
Taylor McHargue proved in 2012 to be one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks (2,209 passing yards, 667 rushing yards, 23 TDs), and he picked up right where he left off to start 2013. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 180 yards and two scores while rushing for another 78 yards, but his two interceptions proved costly in the end.
Benefiting from McHargue's versatility in the backfield was Charles Ross, who turned 19 carries into 107 yards, his fifth career 100-yard game, while also finding the end zone three times (twice rushing, once receiving).
Jordan Taylor was the primary beneficiary of McHargue's exploits, logging seven receptions for 68 yards, including a five-yard touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half.
The Owls' downfall was the play of the defense, which could not keep A&M off the scoreboard late in the game. The unit surrendered 486 yards and allowed Manziel to march up and down the field with ease in the second half.
Michael Kutzler tallied a team-high 11 tackles while also recording a sack. Christian Covington had two TFL and a sack. Cornerback Philip Gaines was Conference USA's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and he'll make his season debut against Kansas after serving a one-game suspension.
Rice has now had two weeks to let its defeat to Texas A&M stew, and its defense will surely be ready to feast on an offense that is no where near as potent. The Jayhawks appear improved from a season ago -- 1-11 teams have very little place to go but up -- but Rice's dynamic offense will be able to run all over the questionable KU defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 45, Kansas 24
09/11 10:38:02 ET
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