Head to head: Vanderbilt vs. Rice

Next up for Vanderbilt is Rice. VandyMania.com compares different critical team areas of Vanderbilt and Rice and indicates which team has the edge.

VANDERBILT
EDGE
AREA
Rice
EDGE
COMMENTS
EVEN  
Vanderbilt rushing offense
vs.
Rice rushing defense
EVEN  
Even here but leaning towards Vandy. Vanderbilt, led by Zac Stacy, has a nice 196 yard-a-game average in rushing offense but most of that came against FCS opponent West Carolina. Rice is allowing about 158 yards a game on the ground but remember that they played pass happy Texas Tech (55-10 loss) which helps to keep those rushing yards down. Defensive end Cheta Ozougwu is the Owls top run stopper. He had 8 tackles including 2 for losses against a tough Oklahoma State squad.  
EVEN  
Vanderbilt passing offense
vs.
Rice passing defense
EVEN  
This match up should be interesting. Rice is 119th nationally in pass defense and Vanderbilt is 112th in passing offense. Rice should make a good opponent for a struggling Vandy passing attack and vice versa. If the 'Dores are successful passing hopefully the coaches will let the VU passing game get a good amount work to build for the future. Free safety Andrew Sendejo has 26 tackles already this season along with a pass breakup for Rice. No Rice player has intercepted a pass. Vandy's Larry Smith leads the Commodore passing attack. He has completed 33 of 74 passes for 365 yards, 2 interceptions and one touchdown. Tight end Austin Monahan and wide receiver John Cole are Vandy's top receivers. They have a combined 13 catches so far this season.  
 
Rice rushing offense
vs.
Vanderbilt rushing defense
 
Vandy's rushing defense dropped to No. 87 nationally after the loss to MSU. Very poor considering most of the starters are back. However, a lot of this yardage had to do with being on the field way too long. The VU defense played well against the run until the fourth quarter when they were spent. They likely won't be on the field near as long against Rice so they'll be less tired in the final quarter. Rice's rushing offense averages less than 100 yards per game as they prefer to pass. However, freshman tailback Charles Ross played well against Oklahoma State and scored two touchdowns. Look for Rice to use Ross more against Vandy.  
 
Rice passing offense
vs.
Vanderbilt passing defense
 
Commodore edge here. These two units are the strengths of both teams. Vandy, with cornerback Myron Lewis, is No. 7 in the nation at stopping the pass. Rice is 37th in passing offense picking up about 245 yards a game. Rice will likely use two quarterbacks during the game, John Shepherd and Nick Fanuzzi. Neither one of those are as good as now graduated Chase Clement who torched Vandy for 300 yards last year. Free safety Sean Richardson and cornerback Jamie Graham are nursing injuries but are expected to play on Saturday.  
Special Teams
 
Although they've given up a couple of long kick/punt returns, Rice has very good special teams. They have a solid 38 yards net punting average which is 10 yards more than Vandy's. They average 11 yards per punt return and 23.5 yards per kickoff return. Kicker Clark Fangmeier is 24 of 37 for his career. He's made 3 of 4 so far this season including one for 45 yards. Vandy's punt return average of 1.67 yards is good for 111th nationally and their 21 yard kick off return average is good for 78th. Freshman kicker Ryan Fowler has a promising future at Vandy but right now he has limited range. He is 2 of 4 with his longest successful attempt coming from 25 yards.  
EVEN  
Coaching
EVEN  
Rice head coach David Bailiff (34-30 career) and Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson (88-94) are both solid coaches who led losing programs to bowl bids in 2008.  
EVEN  
Intangibles
EVEN  
Both teams are hoping to get back on the winning track. Rice (0-3), has dropped three straight to open the season. Vandy has scored just 10 points on offense the past eight quarters and hopes to prove they can score points.  


PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 28 Rice 21

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