Keys to the Game: Rice at Pitt

Rice was so close, yet so far, from pulling off their second conference win Saturday night. 2-0 in the CUSA would have been quite the accomplishment; instead, the Owls lost a winnable game. They don't make many of those for Rice. The Owls travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday to take on the 1-3 Panthers. A few keys:

Shooting for double digits

Dare to dream Rice; perhaps you can cause that second digit on the scoreboard to illuminate into use. It could be beautiful. Rice is averaging 12 points a game, but against Stanford, Houston, and FIU the Owls average just 5.6 points. Pitt presents another Power 5 bowl team on Rice's schedule and chances are the Owls will need to score above five to capture the win. Last week we talked about Rice's receivers, and why they weren't more involved and behold, Kylen Granson and Aaron Cephus double their catch totals for the seasons in one game vs. FIU. You're welcome. Now, let's focus on crossing into the end zone. 

Pitt's Quarterback Quandary

Pitt is 1-3 this year with the one win coming against FCS opponent Youngstown State in overtime. So they aren't exactly setting the world on fire. Last week head coach Pat Narduzzi made a move to Ben DiNucci over USC grad transfer Max Browne last week in a loss to Georgia Tech. The results didn't inspire confidence, Narduzzi benched DiNucci for Browne in the 4th quarter. The Pitt depth chart lists the dreaded or between their names this week. DiNucci is more mobile while Browne is...the guy who held Sam Darnold's seat for him while Sam Darnold became a miracle worker. Rice's best chance might be the uncertainty of Pitt's offense heading into the game. That doesn't solve Rice's offensive issues, but we've already put in a call for a touchdown, so we're pretty much covered. 

Get to know Brian Womac

One of Rice's revelations this year has been the continued evolution of Brian Womac. Womac is thriving in Brian Stewart's new 3-4 defense. Womac led the Owls in tackles for loss the last two seasons and is on pace to do the same this year as well. If you ever want to use the term "high motor guy" you could justifiably apply it to Womac. He's relentless. Playing in Rice's versatile defense, which allows him to stand up or play with his hand on the ground, adds to his ability to bring the chaos. Last week Womac had two sacks and two other tackles for loss. Offensive coordinators have to account for his whereabouts. 

Notes and Numbers 

  • Rice and Pitt have met twice with Rice winning both games, the last coming in 1951. 
  • Pitt's three game losing streak is the longest in Pat Narduzzi's career.
  • Pitt is ninth in the FBS in fewest penalties. 
  • Panther junior Qadree Ollison is attempting to become just the 5th Pitt player with multiple 1,000 yard rushing season. 
  • Rice continues to do well in penalties, the Owls are 5th in the FBS in fewest penalties. 
  • Punter Jack Fox leads CUSA with a 45.7 yard average. 

The Roundup...