Owls Silence Herd 35-10

Rice improved to 8-3 Saturday behind a solid Defensive effort, and an inspired second half from its Offense...

Early on Saturday, Rice looked as if it would cruise to victory over the visiting Thundering Herd from Marshall. Eventually they did, but not before some hand wringing and nail biting - the Owls were tied up with their visitors 7 all at the half.

For once this season, the Offense took most of the chewing from a disappointed Coach David Bailiff at half-time, and the Owls came out of the locker room playing inspired football.

With 28 second half points, and a solid Defensive effort over 4 quarters, Rice prevailed 35-10 to run its record to 8-3.

The win also gives the Owls a 6-1 C-USA record and sets up a huge showdown game between arch-rival Houston. The Cougars rallied to beat UTEP Saturday after trailing for most of the day. With a win over the Owls Saturday, UH can claim the C-USA Western Division Championship, and would play East Carolina for the conference title.

Rice also has a chance to claim the C-USA West, albeit a long shot - they must beat UH and have Marshall upset Tulsa.

Saturday's game has all the elements to draw 40,000 to Rice Stadium - hope it happens too.

Here's a few notes from Saturday's game...

Game Notes

The Rice Defense held Marshall to just 268 yards of total Offense Saturday and only 10 points - the latter is a season low and the best since the 2004 season.

Freshman Punter Kyle Martens had one of his best days punting as an Owl. Martens had a gross average of 43.7 yards on 3 punts. His first punt was a beauty - a 50 yarder to the Marshall 22 yard line that forced the Marshall returner to field the ball right at the sideline before stepping out for no return. His second punt was 45 yarder that was downed at the 3 by Taylor Dupree. The big South Dakotan seems to be settling down a bit and performing like the talented young kicker that he is despite having a few youthful groeing pains to start the season.

Travis Bradshaw continues to shine as one of the most active players on the Owl Defense. The freshman from Cy-Fair HS was seemingly everywhere again on Saturday, leading the team in tackles with 11, and 10 of those were solos. He also recovered a fumble and broke up a pass. He is second on the team in tackles right now, behind fellow Safety Andrew Sendejo. Not bad for the former Owl walk-on, who turned down full ride scholarships to play for Rice.

Owl Starting Defensive Ends Cheta Ozougwu and Scott Solomon both registered sacks Saturday. Solomon leads the team with 3.5 sacks in 2008 and also had 7 tackles against Marshall.

Chase Clement moved into sole possession of the C-USA career touchdowns record. Chase has 114 TDs in his career at Rice now - 91 passing and 23 rushing. He moved ahead of Tulsa's Paul Smith Saturday.

I visited with Rice Offensive Tackle Scott Mitchell's parents on the field after the game Saturday. They plan on staying in Houston through the Thanksgiving holiday and will be here for next week's huge showdown with UH. They shared something that few around Rice know - Scott never played on the Offensive Line in high school. He was a 235 pound Defensive Tackle. He made the switch when he arrived at Rice, and despite weighing as little as 240 pounds last year has blossomed into one of the best Tackles in the league. His father told me the younger Mitchell weighed as much as 305 last summer while lifting in the Owl S&C program. He's around 290 right now.

Speaking of the Rice Offensive Line, they allowed only one sack Saturday to Marshall, that given to MLB Mauri Kitchens. Impressively, they didn't allow any to Marshall's Defensive Ends, one of which is former C-USA Defensive Player-of-the-Year Albert McClellan.

Rice Running Back C.J. Ugokwe continues to produce decent yardage behind a much improved Rice Offensive Line. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry Saturday in route to 79 yards for the day. Through Saturday, Ugokwe is averaging a very respectable 4.9 yards per carry behind Blake Miller's Boys.

Saturday's Rice-UH game is everything the two sides hoped it would be - a huge rivalry game with conference title implications. Both teams are tied at 6-1 in conference play and have a chance to represent the Western Division with a win.

Two words - BE THERE!

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