It was another night of winners for the lucky clients of Matt Fargo who are playing his bowl picks this season. He circled yet another one of the bowl game odds that was ripe for the taking when he selected Rice in the 2008 Texas Bowl. Read why he backed Rice in the details below:
Rice is a team that has flown under the radar this season and because of that we catch a nice number. The Owls are virtually playing a home game here as Reliant Stadium is their home away from home as it is just five minutes from the Rice campus. Obvious advantages include maintaining a consistent practice schedule, being able to sleep in their own beds and eat meals they are used to, and one unique advantage is that they won’t be impacted by travel schedules. Ad in a six-game winning streak and Rice is rolling.
Western Michigan also had a very solid season, going 9-3 including a marquee win against Illinois on a neutral field. Its three losses came against Nebraska, Central Michigan and Ball St., all bowl teams and all on the road. I believe the record is not quite as good as it looks however as the Broncos were outgained in each of their last three games and four of their last five. The offense has the ability to be explosive but the defense allowed too many big plays and if ever there is a big play offense, it is Rice.
As with Western Michigan, all of the Owls losses came on the road and those were against a much tougher Vanderbilt, Texas and Tulsa, all bowl teams as well and better ones at that than what the Broncos lost to. The winning formula all year has been to slow down the opposing team just enough to allow the offense to rack up points. The offense has done just that in compiling a 41.6 ppg scoring average. Conversely, Western Michigan averages 29.8 ppg.
Rice quarterback Chase Clement was 6th in the nation in pass efficiency and averaged 318 passing ypg. He threw 41 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions during the regular season. His main targets are Jarrett Dillard who had a nation-best 19 touchdown catches and James Casey who had a C-USA record 104 pass receptions. Western Michigan is 96th in the nation in pass defense, yielding 249 ypg. On the other side, the Rice defense played well down the stretch and pressured the quarterback much better.
If this game does turn into a shootout which it looks like it will, Rice has the edge as it is 14-4 ATS when both teams score 28 or more points over the last three seasons. The Owls are 8-2 ATS with a total of 63 or greater. Western Michigan meanwhile does not recover well from big losses as it is 4-13-1 ATS in its last 18 games after a loss of 20 or more points. The Owls are poised for a 10-win season for just the second time in history and a bowl victory for the first since 1954. They get it done in front of the home crowd. 8* Rice Owls