Rice vs. Notre Dame Matchup Looking to be a Blowout

David Lawrence

Saturday, July 19, 2014 3:05 PM GMT

The Rice Owls are coming off a season in which they won a conference championship and overachieved a great deal. When a program not known for its consistency steps into a season which follows a big accomplishment, it can often be a challenge to keep winning.

Rice will be challenged by history, but it will also be challenged by a Notre Dame team that’s getting a very important player back in the lineup this year.

 

Rice Owls vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Saturday, August 30th – 3:40 PM ET

NCAA Football Odds: Notre Dame -19.5

 

The Owls Can Win Because…
They play better defense than they used to. Rice was able to score in important moments last season, but the biggest reason the Owls won Conference USA is that their defense was light years better than in 2012. Rice coach David Bailiff, a longtime veteran of Conference USA, knew that in a league where offense has usually been easy to come by, the teams that could make big strides on defense would get a leg up on the competition. The Owls clearly focused on defense and reaped the benefits of their approach. They held Marshall’s extremely potent offense to fewer than 400 yards in the Conference USA Championship Game, giving the Thundering Herd one of their toughest and most disappointing games on the offensive side of the ball during the 2013 season. Rice’s defensive unit was extremely well schooled and found ways to get in the right positions to make tackles and break up passes. The Owls weren’t physically dominant, but they read plays and reacted exactly the way a coaching staff would want its players to react on gamedays. Against a Notre Dame offense whose starting quarterback sat out the 2013 season, Rice’s defense might be able to make a number of key plays aided by the Fighting Irish’s rust. We’ll see what happens.

 

The Fighting Irish Can Win Because…
They have been waiting to get their star quarterback on the field again, and when this game starts, the wait should be over, provided that no injuries crop up in camp during the month of August. Everett Golson led Notre Dame to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. Golson has a strong arm and a quick pair of legs, giving defenses fits with his dual-threat capabilities. Golson might be a little bit rusty or overanxious at the beginning of this game, but after two series, he should be able to settle down and become the leader of this offense once again. Golson has been waiting for this moment for a long time. Golson should also benefit in this game (and the season) from the fact that he did not get beaten up last season. He will be physically fresh. He won’t be carrying around injuries. His scrambling, early in the season, will be a huge headache for various defenses, including Rice’s.

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Outlook & NCAA Football Betting Prediction
If Golson doesn’t stumble out of the gate with two interceptions, and as long as he does settle down a few possessions into this game, he should be far too much for Rice’s defense to handle. Notre Dame is generally too physical for Rice to handle. This feels like a blowout.

NCAA Football Picks: Notre Dame -19.5 at TheGreek