Five Things Learned About Rice and UH Football This Season
The college football season ended last week, and it's safe to say that the season didn't exactly go as Rice (6-6) and the University of Houston (5-7) wanted. For Rice, things went a bit better. For the Cougars, things went a lot worse. So here are five things we learned about the Owls and Cougars this season.
Wait, the Owls are what?
5. Rice Beating Rice: Owls head coach David Bailiff and his players like to talk about there being nobody that can beat the team but for themselves. And this past season emphasized that point. The Owls were competitive in just about every game they played, but lost time and time again because of stupid penalties, mental errors, an inability to execute, and a failure to make tackles.
Who knows what happens if Rice makes a few first quarter tackles in the loss against UCLA. There's no way the Owls should have lost to Memphis, one of the worst teams in college football. The Owls led Tulsa for nearly the entire game, only to see an inability to score once in the red zone, a missed field goal late in the fourth quarter, and a collapsing defense lead to a loss. Mistakes nearly led to a loss against Tulane. Yeah, the season was really ugly at times.
4. Never Enough Depth: Before the season, Bailiff stated that this Rice team had more depth than any of his previous teams. Then the injuries started. Players were shuffled in and out of the defensive line because of injuries, which meant problems for the entire defense. Quarterback Taylor McHargue's injury late in the Marshal game probably cost the Owls that game, and definitely hurt them in the loss to Houston the next week. There were injuries to the receiving corps and the backfield.
3. Future Uncertainty: The Owls are remaining in Conference USA. But what exactly is going to become of C-USA? The Cougars, Memphis, SMU, UCF, Tulane, and ECU are departing for the Big East which is turning into Conference USA 2.0. Conference USA has resorted to raiding the Sun Belt Conference, and the conference, which was pretty mediocre to begin with, is on its way to huge laughingstock status when the 2013 football season begins. The Owls will have a large returning class of players, though, so that might be for the best as the competition promises to be worse than normal, though it's hard to believe that there could be any football teams worse than the departing Tulane and UAB.
2. Rice Fight, Never Die: The Owls were 1-5 at the halfway point of the season. I admit that I thought the Owls were done for and I gave up on their season, as I'm sure did many fans. But the coaching staff and players didn't quit though it would have been easy for them to do so, too. Instead the team went out and played its best football of the season, winning five of their last six games to finish with a 6-6 record and earn bowl eligibility.
1. Holy Crap, Rice Is Going Bowling: The Owls won't know until tomorrow afternoon just which bowl game they'll be playing in - either the New Orleans Bowl on December 22 or the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth on December 29 - but somehow the Owls got hot at just the right time and now they're going to a bowl. Who would've ever seen that coming?