Week 5 – Houston at Rice

Posted Sep 28, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story – Houston at Rice

Houston (0-3) at Rice (1-3) Sept. 29, 3:30, FSN

Here's The Deal: Local rivals Houston and Rice meet in the Bayou Bucket Bowl at Reliant Stadium, both looking to reverse direction following awful starts. The Cougars have been one of the nation's biggest disappointments of September, displaying its many warts in lopsided losses to Texas State and UCLA. The team did get a much-needed bye to rest, refocus and rededicate itself to getting better on both sides of the ball. This weekend is an especially big deal for the Owls, which have yielded 73 points in consecutive games to the cross-town Cougars. In terms of football, Rice is the little brother in Houston, so getting motivated after last week's emotional overtime loss to Marshall doesn't figure to be a problem.

Why Houston Might Win: An Owls defense that ranks 120th nationally in points allowed figures to be the perfect antidote for the struggling Cougars offense. The output has been erratic, but there are parts in place for the attack to play with more sustained pop. David Piland is still the quarterback who threw for 580 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago. Dynamite RB Charles Sims is expected back from injury after missing the UCLA game. And young receivers Deontay Greenberry and Daniel Spencer have begun to complement steady veteran Dewayne Peace.

Why Rice Might Win: Will the Owls have dinged Taylor McHargue under center on Saturday afternoon? If so, they'll have few problems keeping up with the Houston offense. Before hurting his non-throwing shoulder, the dual-threat quarterback had accounted for 467 yards and four scores. He was a one-man show, though, has gotten help in the receiving game from pass-catchers Sam McGuffie, Jordan Taylor and Vance McDonald. Rice needs McHargue's energy and playmaking ability to remain a threat this weekend.

What To Watch Out For: Neither defense has shined through the first month, but that doesn't mean that there haven't been bright spots. Houston S Trevon Stewart, for instance. The true freshman has been a source of hope for the Cougars, making 16 tackles in the UCLA game two weeks ago. He's still learning, especially after beginning the year as a cornerback, but has the athleticism and instincts to again be a major factor this week versus Rice.

What Will Happen: It all comes down to McHargue. If he plays and is healthy, Rice will compete in a track meet. If not, backup Driphus Jackson is too raw as a passer to win this type of a game. It may be fleeting, but Houston will get back to some degree of normalcy this week, following the lead of an untapped offense to its first victory of the year.

CFN Prediction: Houston 41 … Rice 30
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Houston -5 O/U: 73.5