If nothing else, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl got a matchup that few if any saw coming before the 2013 college football betting season started.
It's the fourth time
ESPN has the late-afternoon New Year's Even matchup beginning at 4 PM (ET), and the Bulldogs are holding steady as 7 point favorites on SBR's live college football odds. The total started at 51.5, but has since dropped a point to 50.5 in early trading.
This marks only the second meeting between the Owls and
Bulldogs, the other coming way back in 1975 when Rice traveled to
Rice Earns 1st Conference Honors In 56 Years
That Rice is appearing in a second consecutive bowl game is
news in itself; that the Owls (10-3 straight up, 8-5 against the spread) are
doing so as conference champions is stop
the presses headline material. Rice's 41-24 win over
David Bailiff, who garnered C-USA Coach of the Year honors in his seventh year at Rice, directed the Owls to their second 10-win season since his arrival before 2007. You have to go all the way back to 1949 to find Rice's only other 10-win campaign. The Owls needed a couple of overtime wins on the road to make it happen this time.
They also used a brilliant ground game and undersized, underrated defense to get the job done. Charles Ross did the bulk of the work on the ground carrying the ball 201 times for more than 1,250 yards and 14 touchdowns. The senior was a 1-man show in the 52-14 win over Louisiana Tech, scoring five times with a career-best 215 yards on the ground.
Taylor McHargue directed the offense with 2,261 yards passing and another 466 on the ground. He enters the Liberty Bowl with a string of 86 passes without an interception.
The defense ranks 24th nationally allowing 351.1 yards per game and allowed opponents to complete just 51% of their passes while picking off 14 aerials. Rice is expected to be without the versatile Darrion Pollard due to a foot injury. Pollard played cornerback, wide receiver and returned kicks for the Owls in 2013.
Bulldogs Win Final Two Games To Go Bowling
After losing a third straight game in mid-November, it
didn't appear Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs would be heading to a bowl. But
The Bulldogs, now in their fifth season under Mullen, came
close to beating then-unranked
One gauge we can use in this matchup is how Rice and
My pick: Rice +7
Reg. Season: 31-15 (+14.5)