Bears to Battle Rice

The Baylor Bears look to continue their hot start at home Saturday evening against the Rice Owls.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 6:00
GAMEDATE: 9/24/11
SITE: Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas
SURFACE: SportGrass
TV: Fox Sports
SERIES: Baylor leads 46-30-2 (last meeting, 2010, Baylor 30-13)
RECORDS: Rice 1-1; Baylor 2-0
POLLS: Baylor (No. 17 AP, No. 19 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Baylor 45-21

KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Baylor: Keep on keeping on. The Bears have rolled offensively through their first two games and have an opportunity to continue that against a Rice defense that is surrendering 436 yards a game. Baylor's defense has an opportunity for another confidence boost against a Rice offense that averages only 288 yards a game.

-- For Rice: Keep Baylor QB Robert Griffin III contained. He shredded TCU in the Bears' 50-48 victory in the first week of the season and enters this game averaging 370 total yards of offense per game. He can beat teams with his arm or his legs and if he runs wild on Rice, the Owls will lose -- probably by a wide margin.

SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
QB Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright are big-play guys in Baylor's offense, and now RB Terrance Ganaway has emerged as a running threat to keep defenses honest. Ganaway has run for 200 yards in two games, even though the last outing against Stephen F. Austin was cut to less than three quarters because of lightning threats. Wright has 20 receptions for 312 yards, and Griffin has completed 83.7 percent of his passes for 624 yards and run for 116.

The Bears looked like they were coming around defensively in the second half of their win over TCU but then nearly gave the game back to the Horned Frogs with their collapse in the fourth quarter. The Bears have only two sacks and two interceptions through their first two games.

Rice RB Sam McGuffie, who led the Owls in rushing and receiving last season in his first tour of duty after transferring from Michigan, was limited to one carry in the season opener against Texas due to a leg injury and made just nine rush attempts against Purdue. QB Taylor McHargue has set career highs for passes completed and attempted in consecutive games.

After ranking among the worst pass defenses in the FBS last season, Rice entered the week of Sept. 24 allowing 230 yards through the game. That's 76th in the nation, but much improved over last season's unit, which allowed more yards per game than all but one team at the FBS level.

FAST FACTS:
Bears: Baylor is going for its first 3-0 start since 2005. That team faded, however, and finished the season at 5-6. The Bears also are going for their seventh straight win against non-conference foes at home. ... The Bears are 5-3 against their former colleagues in the old Southwest Conference who did not come over to the Big 12 at the start of the 1996 season (2-0 vs. Rice, 2-0 vs. SMU, 1-3 vs. TCU). ... QB Robert Griffin III feasts on non-conference opposition. He has thrown 28 touchdown passes against only two interceptions in 14 career games against non-Big 12 opponents. One of the picks came against Rice last year. He was 20-of-28 for 268 yards in Baylor's 30-13 win over the Owls. ... WR Antwan Goodley is the only redshirt freshman to start for the Bears. He got his first collegiate start in the last outing against Stephen F. Austin.

Owls: Rice is celebrating its 100th year of football. The first game was played just two months after Rice Institute (as it was known for years) opened in 1912. Rice's all-time record is 429-542-32. ... It has now been 298 games since Rice returned a kickoff for a touchdown. That's the longest streak among all FBS teams. The Owls last returned a kickoff to pay dirt on Nov. 17, 1984. ... The presence of DE Scott Solomon has bolstered Rice's defensive play and also brought more leadership to the field. Solomon missed all of 2010 with a broken bone in his foot, but loomed large with eight tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the Owls' 24-22 win over Purdue. ... The win over Purdue snapped a 22-game losing streak for the Owls against teams from automatic qualifying BCS conferences. ... P Kyle Martens, an All-American in 2010, entered the week of Sept. 24 ranked third in the FBS in punting with a 49.5-yard average on his kicks. Martens also leads Conference USA in punting.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Bears:
QB Robert Griffin III -- You never want to take your eyes off this guy. He not only can beat you with his passing and running, he also showed he can be a receiver, too, with a key catch late in the win over TCU.

WR Kendall Wright -- Wright has caught at least one pass in every game of his 39-game college career. The senior inside receiver is Baylor's all-time receptions leader (214) and leads in receiving yards (2,643). He is 2-for-2 passing this season, one for a touchdown.

CB Chance Casey -- Casey leads the Bears in tackles (14) and has broken up two passes and forced a fumble. He had 10 tackles in the win over TCU in the opener.

Owls:
LB Cameron Nwosu -- Currently the Owls' top tackler, Nwosu came up with one of the big plays in the victory against Purdue, combining with S Tanner Leland to stop Purdue's Akeem Shavers on a fourth-and-1 at the Rice 2-yard line.

RB Sam McGuffie -- McGuffie accounted for 97 total yards of offense, 64 rushing and 33 receiving, in last season's loss to Baylor. He'll have to raise both numbers if the Owls want to beat a BCS conference foe for the second consecutive game.

QB Taylor McHargue -- He's set career highs for completions and pass attempts in back-to-back games in 2011, and he's only made six career starts. McHargue is only going to get better as the season progresses, but the Rice offensive line has to keep him healthy.

INJURY WATCH:
Bears:
CB Tyler Stephenson (leg, probable).

Owls:
LB Trey Briggs (knee, questionable).

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