Rice vs Southern Miss prediction, game preview, odds, how to watch. LendingTree Bowl, Saturday, December 17
Rice vs Southern Miss LendingTree Bowl Prediction Game Preview
Rice vs Southern Miss How To Watch
Date: Saturday, December 17
Game Time: 5:45 ET
Venue: Hancock Whitney Stadium, Mobile, AL
How To Watch: ESPN
Record: Rice (5-7), Southern Miss (6-6)
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Rice vs Southern Miss LendingTree Bowl 5 Things To Know
– There weren’t quite enough eligible teams, so the bowl types had to dip into the APR (Academic Progress Rate) among the five-win teams and Rice was on top of the list. It’s not exactly coming in rolling, losing its last three games and four of its last five, but the energy and interest will be there. The program caught a break, and it’ll play like it.
– Southern Miss isn’t exactly rolling into this, but it was able to get the job done with a win over ULM to break a three-game losing streak and get bowl eligible. It’s not going to bring a high-powered offense, but it has a way of keeping games close.
– It’s USM’s first bowl appearance under head coach Will Hall and the program’s first post-season game since 2019. However, it hasn’t won one since taking down Louisiana in the 2016 New Orleans, and it’s 3-6 since winning the 2008 New Orleans.
– This is just the 13th bowl appearance for Rice, going 7-5 in the first 12. It’s the first appearance wince beating Fresno State in the 2014 Hawaii, going 3-1 in the last four bowls after a four-bowl losing streak that reached back into the 1950s.
– The bowl has gone through a few transformations when it comes to the name – the game had six different name changes since 1999 as it settled into LendingTree at the end of the 2019 season – and it’s way overdue for a good game. The first three LendingTrees were all decided by double-digits, and there hasn’t been a close version since Troy beat Ohio 28-23 in the 2016 Dollar General. To make this worse, seven of the last eight games have been relative blowouts.
Why Rice Will Win The LendingTree Bowl
Again, Southern Miss isn’t going to crank out a whole lot of offense to put this out of reach. It struggles on third downs, the offensive line is too leaky, and there are way, way, way too many turnovers.
They chilled out late with just two in the last three games, but before that the offense gave it away multiple times in five straight. The Rice offense could use the help.
The Owls should always have the ball. They’re great at controlling the tempo and winning the time of possession battle, and Southern Miss – partly because of the problems on third downs – only keeps the ball for 28:40 a game.
Owning the running game on both sides is a must. Rice is 0-6 vs FBS teams when allowing more than 155 yards and 4-1 when it doesn’t. Southern Miss hit the 155-yard mark just four times.
But about those turnovers ….
Why Southern Miss Will Win The LendingTree Bowl
Southern Miss had a turnover problem throughout the season, but that’s nothing compared to the problems Rice had. It gave it up 30 times on the year with 13 coming in the last four games.
The fumbling is bad, the interceptions are worse and overall the team was dead last in the nation – tied with Northwestern – for the most giveaways.
The Southern Miss defense might not be a rock, but good things happen when it stops the run – the team is 5-1 when it allows fewer than 150 rushing yards.
It all stems from one of the nation’s best pass rushes. All of that pressure is the last thing the Rice offense needs. Get in the Owl backfield, force mistakes.