The Bayou Bucket rivalry with the University of Houston and crosstown rival Rice will return to Reliant Stadium for the second straight season this Saturday, September 21.
Houston extended its lead in the series to 28-11 last season with a 35-14 win in front of 32,718 fans. Rice is coming off an amazing win against Kansas and look to take that momentum into the game Saturday. Houston had a bye week this past week and hope the extra rest and time to prepare will help them capture the Bayou Bucket Trophy.
Rice players to watch: Quarterback Taylor McHargue left the win against Kansas late in the second half after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. His status for Saturday’s game is uncertain. McHargue has thrown four interceptions this season – all coming in the second half. If he is unable to play, sophomore backup Driphus Jackson would get the start. Jackson made his first career start in last year’s Bayou Bucket when McHargue was hurt a week earlier.
Running back Charles Ross has posted consecutive 100-yard games to begin the season, including a career-high 157 yards against Kansas. Ross has 264 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
The Owls, behind a veteran offensive line that returns intact, are averaging 249 rushing yards and 439.5 yards total offense. … Rice has scored in all seven red-zone trips this season, five of them touchdowns.
LB Cameron Nwosu (knee), who missed all of preseason camp, is expected to make his season debut. In his place, former walk-on Michael Kutzler led the Owls in tackles in a season-opening loss to Texas A&M and returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown against Kansas. Kutzler and defensive tackle Christian Covington are tied for the team lead with two sacks.
The Owls have arguably the top cornerback duo in Conference USA with Phillip Gaines and Bryce Callahan. Gaines was second in the nation with 18 pass breakups last season. … The Owls, behind a veteran offensive line that returns intact, are averaging 249 rushing yards and 439.5 yards total offense. … Rice has scored in all seven red-zone trips this season, five of them touchdowns.
UH players to watch: Like the Owls, the Cougars are uncertain at quarterback with starter David Piland still not cleared after suffering a concussion in the Sept. 7 win at Temple. If Piland cannot play, true freshman John O’Korn will make his first career start. O’Korn has been impressive in two games, completing 73.9 percent (34-of-46) for 340 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Wide receiver Deontay Greenberry has benefited from a move inside and has 20 receptions for 235 yards and one touchdown. Greenberry had career highs with 14 catches for 165 yards against Temple.
Running back Ryan Jackson has three consecutive 100-yard games dating back to last season. He has rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns this season. Running back Kenneth Farrow, the Cougars’ second-leading rusher, is questionable with an ankle injury.
The Cougars’ defense is led by Derrick Mathews (22 tackles), who made this move to middle linebacker in the offseason, and free safety Trevon Stewart (two fumble recoveries). The 26 points allowed by UH in the first two games are the fewest since giving up seven to UNLV and Arizona State in 1989. UH, under first-year coordinator David Gibbs, is currently 38th in total defense (336 yards per game) and 18th against the run (102). UH is second nationally with a plus-5 turnover ratio.
The Cougars struggled in the red zone against Temple, scoring a touchdown in only one of eight trips. For the season, UH has scored 14 of 17 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, but only eight have gone for touchdowns.