Rice went to Bowling Green, Kentucky to open the season against CUSA favorite Western Kentucky. A tough task for anyone, let alone a team trying to recover from a 5-7 season. The Hilltoppers got the win 46-14 in a game that got out of hand early.
Some quick thoughts:
- Western Kentucky had the big play whenever it wanted it. Rice's secondary was overmatched by Western Kentucky's team speed.
- Rice had difficulty running the ball. A strength of the Owls, a deep running back group was largely ineffective. The Hilltoppers got a lot of penetration and rerouted the Owls early and often.
- Tyler Stehling looked more comfortable as the game went along. He also ran much better than expected, he was the Owls best running threat with 85 yards.
- Stehling didn't threaten the Hilltoppers downfield, instead he went sideline to sideline.
- Stehling's 2 picks didn't help, though the second came during what was essentially garbage time.
- Rice's front seven played better earlier in the game but the Hilltopper's pace and vertical passing game wore the Owls front down. The Owls early offensive struggles didn't help the defense either.
- The Owls played better on both sides in the second half, holding the Hilltoppers to 16 points and 3 of 10 on third downs for the game.
- Western Kentucky's Mike White kick started his Heisman campaign going 25-31 of 517 yards and three touchdowns.
- This isn't a terrible result, Western Kentucky is going to do this to a lot teams in 2016. They get Bama next week and Bama needs to be careful with the 'Toppers.
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