Big 12 Previews

Houston vs. Rice: Preview, Prediction, and Game Odds

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Houston

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the Houston Cougars and the Rice Owls.


Saturday, September 9; 6:00 p.m. CT; Rice Stadium; Houston, Texas

TV: NFL Network

Radio: KPRC AM 950

2022 Records: Houston (1-0); Rice (0-1)

Rankings: NR

Series History: Houston leads series, 33-11

Last Meeting: Houston 34, Rice 27 (2022)

Spread: Houston (-9.5)

Fun Fact: The matchup between Houston and Rice is one of the shortest travels of any game on the Week 2 slate. The Cougars are traveling to Rice Stadium from TDECU Stadium which Google Maps currently has listed as an 18-minute commute by car.





While Donovan Smith wasn’t spectacular in Week 1 against UTSA, the former Red Raider took care of business against a solid opponent en route to a 17-14 win. Smith finished his day going 22-34 for 233 yards and two scores through the air. Smith was sacked three times against UTSA and while the Owls pass rush should be less troublesome than the Roadrunners, Houston’s o-line will need to keep Smith upright if the team wants to get off to a 2-0 start.


Flemming had an outstanding performance in Week 1 against UTSA snagging two interceptions on Saturday. Houston’s defense was one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2023 season, but after putting together a solid performance against a tough UTSA offense, the Cougars could find themselves in a better position than expected. Flemming and the Cougars forced three interceptions from UTSA quarterback Frank Harris, and while the defense shouldn’t have to be at their best in order to take down Rice on Saturday, Malik Flemming gave Houston fans a big reason to feel optimistic going forward.




JT Daniels had a rough outing against the Longhorns in Week 1 of the college football season facing constant pressure from the Longhorns defense which forced the former Mountaineer to throw two picks. While Daniels career in college football has been a wildly inconsistent ride so far, the former five-star has the opportunity to face a second team from the Big 12 in back-to-back games on Saturday. Daniels showed a lot of fight against Texas and in the event that the Rice offensive line can keep the Cougars back, Daniels could show up and make some big time throws this weekend.


Josh Pearcy led Rice in sacks last season with 6.5 and already has one sack under his belt in 2023 after bringing down Quinn Ewers last Saturday. Houston’s offensive line struggled in their first outing giving up three sacks against UTSA, and if Pearcy can get going early against the Cougars, Houston’s offense could stall on Saturday. Pearcy finished 2022 with 50 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and one forced fumble in 2022, and with a new opportunity to add to his 2023 total on Saturday, Josh Pearcy is a player to watch.




Can the defense put together another solid outing in Week 2? Houston was picked to finish 13th in the recent Big 12 Preseason Media Poll for a multitude of reasons, one being a lack of playmakers on defense. Houston silenced some of the doubters on Saturday in the Cougars’ 17-14 win over UTSA where Doug Belk’s defense suffocated the Roadrunners offense. While Rice may prove to be less of a challenge than in Week 1, Houston’s defense can set themselves up well for Big 12 play with some continued momentum on defense.


Can Rice break the streak? It’s no secret that this game is played consistently for the lack of travel expenses and to give the Cougars an easier matchup to fine tune any issues they may face in the upcoming season. Rice has beat the Houston in the past winning 1/4th of the games between the two programs, but with Houston taking home the last seven matchups between the two, can JT Daniels get Rice back into the win column?


I believe that Houston will handle Rice with relative ease to advance to 2-0, however, the Owls saving grace is that Houston has a tough Week 3 matchup against TCU on their schedule, and in the event that Dana Holgorsen’s squad is looking past Rice, the Owls could play spoiler in this game. I think Donovan Smith will manage the game effectively and lead Houston to a comfortable win against Rice without too many surprises on Saturday. Look for Houston’s defense to play well and do just enough to keep this game from getting out of hand.

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