12/30/2008 8:00:00 PM
Rice has won six straight, and they are averaging over 41 points for the entire season. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Chase Clement, who should give Western Michigan fits.
The Rice Owls had a very solid season going 9-3 overall including 6-0 at home, and they should simply have too much firepower for the Western Michigan Broncos, who come out of a MAC conference that has struggled in the bowls so far.
[articleBanner]who2beton[/articleBanner]We mention the Rice home record because this contest is being played in their back yard in Houston. The Owls averaged an impressive 41.6 points and 472.2 total yards of offense per game this season, and their three losses came on the road at Texas, Vanderbilt and Tulsa, all of whom are bowl teams.
Rice also enters this game on a six-game winning streak after beginning the year at 3-3, and they have scored at least 35 points in every game during this streak. They have an outstanding dual threat at quarterback in Chase Clement, as not only did he pass for over 3800 yards with an incredible 41 touchdown passes vs. just seven interceptions this season, but he also added 621 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground!
Clement and the rest of a very versatile Rice offense presents a nightmarish matchup for a Western Michigan defense that struggled on the road all year, allowing 31.5 points on a horrendous 405.3 yards per game away from home. It also hurts the cause of Western Michigan that the MAC is 0-2 both straight up and against the spread this bowl season with the losses coming to a couple of the lesser teams to qualify for a bowl (Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech).
Rice is much stronger than those two clubs, so this seems like an extremely tough chore for the Broncos, especially with the contest being a virtual home game for Rice.
Free Pick: Rice -3 (-110)