Cougars Different Team in 2012

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I'm not sure anyone would have predicted that the two teams playing in the annual Bayou Bucket contest tomorrow would have won only one game combined. But such is the case as Rice and Houston tee it up at Reliant Stadium Saturday.
Houston in particular is in a much different position than it was last year at this time.
- The Cougars are 0-3 in 2012 after going undefeated their first 12 games of the 2011 season.
- Through 3 games last year Houston had scored 121 points - this year the Coogs have put up just over half that at 68.
- Their defense had allowed 91 points at this point last season. In 2012 they've already yielded 123.
The numbers tell the story - but not the real story. Houston's high-powered offense isn't the same without Case Keenum. Or Patrick Edwards, Justin Johnson, Tyron Carrier and Michael Hayes.
Those 5 players accounted for nearly 11,000 yards of offense in 2011.
Also gone is Coach Kevin Sumlin. If nothing else Sumlin's timing is impeccable. After winning 13 games last season and leading the Coogs to a #7 national ranking, his stock would never have been any higher. Nor would his cupboard be any more bare headed into 2012...
Game Notes
- Rice led Houston 17-7 and 20-14 in the second quarter of the game last year - before being routed 73-34. Houston would match that point total 2 weeks later, beating Tulane 73-17.
- First year Head Coach Tony Levine told Houston media this week he hopes for a "fast start". Good idea, Rice has scored only 20 points in the 1st quarter through 4 games.
- After injuring his non-throwing shoulder against Marshall last week, Taylor McHargue will be a game time decision. If he can't go, backup Driphus Jackson had a great day of practice on Wednesday and is playing with a lot of confidence.
- Cougar Running Back Charles Sims is expected to return to action Saturday after injuring his hip against UCLA. He led the Coogs in rushing last year with 834 yards on a 7.5 yard average. Houston will no doubt test the Owls' porous run defense. Rice ranks 119th out of 120 teams in rushing defense.
- If trends mean anything, Rice is due to beat Houston in 2012. They won in even numbered years 2008 and 2010.
- The Rice Athletic Department has announced that their will be no Spirit Walk prior to Saturday's game with rain almost a definite likelihood.
- Chris Boswell ranks 3rd in the country among kickers this year with 2.25 FG per game.
- Twitter post this week by Owl senior TE Luke Willson: "I just want to win games..."
Houston Stat Line:
David Piland - 98-of-181 passing, 54.1%, 1040 yards, 5 touchdowns, 6 interceptions. 13 carries, 146 yards.
Dewayne Peace - 23 catches, 257 yards.
Richie Leone - 19 punts for 927 yards, 48.8 ypp average. #1 in NCAA.
Philip Steward - 39 tackles, 6.5 tfl, 2 sacks. Derrick Mathews - 31 tackles, 8 tfl, 3 sacks.
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