Week 8 – Rice at Tulsa

Posted Oct 19, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Game Analysis – Rice at Tulsa

Rice (2-5) at Tulsa (6-1) Oct. 20, 3:30, FSN

Here's The Deal: Tulsa is rolling, as it makes a strong case for being this year's banner holder in Conference USA. The Golden Hurricane has now won six consecutive games since dropping the opener in Ames to Iowa State, and has seized control of the West Division with a 4-0 mark. If the school can remain on the beam, especially with upcoming trips to Arkansas and Houston, Top 25 recognition could be the reward. Rice snapped a four-game losing streak a week ago, running past visiting UTSA. Still, it was a temporary relief for an Owls program that fell to lowly Memphis just a week earlier. Speculation continues to swirl about the future of David Bailiff, an inevitable occurrence for a sixth-year coach with a career mark below .500.

Why Rice Might Win: The Owls feel as if they've gotten back on track offensively with last week's performance against the Roadrunners. Rice ran the ball up to Bailiff's expectations, rolling up 301 yards and three touchdowns to move up to No. 2 in the league on the ground. Tulsa creates a ton of big plays on defense, but allows a bunch as well. The Hurricane has been tougher versus the run, which should entice Rice QB Taylor McHargue to drop back and attempt to play catch with receivers Sam McGuffie and Jordan Taylor.

Why Tulsa Might Win: Rice's recent improvements on defense are about to be put on ice for a week. The Owls, who've had major problems clogging running lanes, are about to get trampled by a Golden Hurricane ground game that's averaging 250 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry. Operating behind a blue-collar line that excels in run blocking, backs Ja'Terian Douglas, Alex Singleton and Trey Watts are going to slice through the Rice defense with relative ease. QB Cody Green won't need to throw often, but when he does, play-action will generate at least one or two big pops downfield.

What To Watch Out For: Rice prefers to run the ball a little more than it throws it for philosophical reasons. This week, the strategy will pertain to self-preservation as well. The oft-dinged McHargue is about to face the nation's leader in both sacks and tackles for loss, a pressure-cooker of a defense that brings the heat for all 60 minutes. The Owls quarterback will need to keep his head on a swivel, because the hard-charging Hurricane in his line of sight could be anyone from DE Jared St. John or DT Daeshon Bufford to instinctive LB DeAundre Brown.

What Will Happen: As Conference USA programs go, Tulsa is for real. The Golden Hurricane has started to get it done on both sides of the ball, a combination that's too much for a wildly inconsistent Rice squad. Tulsa will bludgeon its visitor with a wave of power running plays, craftily mixing in throws from Green. The defense will take care of the rest, badgering McHargue and picking off at least two of his throws in a one-sided victory.

CFN Prediction: Tulsa 44 … Rice 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Tulsa -20.5 O/U: 64
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 1.5