Well, "big-time" is here.
Saturday's Rice-UH Game is for more than just the bragging rights its been played for of late.
Rice can actually do the same but must have help from Marshall if it is to claim the West. Equally, as significant, and probably more realistic, the Owls can become the first team to win 9 games in a season in over 50 years.
On top of all the added incentives, these teams have a natural backyard rivalry. The team compete hard in all sports against each other. For bragging rights, and for recruits.
The stadium is expecting to have more than 40,000 fill the seats tomorrow afternoon to see the Battle for the Bucket.
The stage is set. Big time football is back at Rice Stadium...be there.
Farewell to Heroes - tomorrow marks the final game at Rice Stadium for 14 Rice Seniors. Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard will no doubt receive a rousing standing ovation tomorrow. The two have re-written just about every Offensive record in the Rice Football history book and have been instrumental in Rice's efforts to regain respectability with its football program. Hat's off to these two - hardly recruited, both have shown what hard work and heart can do. Thanks guys.
Leading Tacklers - Freshman Marcus McGraw was heavily recruited by Rice before eventually signing with Houston last spring. Though things didn't work out for him to become a Rice Owl, the level of his ability was apparently a consensus between both coaching staffs. McGraw has started every game this year and is the leading tackler for UH with 85. Andrew Sendejo remains Rice's leading tackler, despite missing games with a high-ankle sprain. He is also the team leader in interceptions with 4.
Sack Attack - Phillip Hunt is not only the leader in sacks for UH, he's one of the Top 5 pass rushers in the country. He averages a sack per game - and has 11 on the year. His 30.5 career sacks ranks him #2 on the active career leaders list. For the Owls, Scott Solomon leads the way with 4.
There's Fast...Then There's - Houston's Tyron Carrier. The Redshirt Freshman from Worthing High School here in Houston has run 20.60 in the 200 meters. He won a Silver Medal at the NCAA Midwest Regionals, before eventually making it to the semi-finals at the NCAA Championships. No surprise Carrier is the leading Receiver for the Cougars. He uses his speed to make up for his lack of height - he's only 5-7.
Leading Rushers - Bryce Beall has already surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for 2008. The Freshman from Tatum was twice All-State in high school and averages over 93 yards per game for UH. C.J. Ugokwe leads the Owls with an average of almost 60 yards per game.
Cougar Keys To Victory - Houston has a scoring average of just over 41 points per game. That number was aided by a 70 point outburst against Tulsa - but they earned it nonetheless. They can score a lot of points in a hurry - and to win tomorrow must force a high scoring affair, where one failed possession could be the difference in the game.
Owl Keys To Victory - Rice must pick up where it left off in the second half against Marshall. The Defense shut down The Herd in the second half last Saturday and overall was much more sure in it's tackling. They must generate a couple of turnovers against the Cougars to give themselves a favorable margin for error in what will likely be a back-and-forth scoring contest. Chase must be protected against pass rusher deluxe Phillip Hunt. If the Owls can put 4 quarters of football together they have as good a shot as they'll need to bring the Bucket back to South Main.