There is no doubt that Baylor is ready to put all of the off-the-field stories behind it and get back to football. The Rice Owls will come into Waco with a 2-1 record and an offense that has shown a knack for being able to move the ball. A 14-point loss to Texas in Austin opened some eyes around the country.
Baylor will be looking to finish off its non-conference schedule undefeated before entering Big 12 play next week.
Rice at Baylor
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports Net
Spread: Baylor -34.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Rice Offense
This just in, Rice can move the ball. The Owls are averaging 522.3 total yards per game this season. That includes an offensive performance against Texas in which the Owls outgained the Longhorns 462-277. Rice’s balanced offensive attack has been a pleasant surprise for Owls fans this season. With 749 yards through the air and 818 on the ground Rice has been able to keep defenses off balance.
Baylor's defense will be the toughest Rice has faced yet this season and it will be interesting to see how well the Owls can maintain their offensive momentum against a Bears defense that is currently ranked 56th in the nation.
2. Baylor's Rushing Attack
The early-season statistics for the Bears' rushing attack are impressive. Coming into Saturday, Baylor leads the nation at 7.66 yards per attempt. What makes this even more impressive is this feat is being accomplished using multiple backs. Four different Baylor running backs have at least 14 carries this season. When talking about Baylor, the passing game usually dominates the conversation. And while that aspect of this offense is stellar, the running game should get some credit for what it has accomplished thus far too.
3. Can Baylor's Defense Improve?
While Baylor's defense is ranked among the upper half of FBS team (56th), don't lose sight of the fact that the opposition has been SMU and Lamar. Just like SMU, Rice has the ability to move the ball. If Baylor is going to avoid any slip ups in conference play this is the last game the Bears have to iron out any kinks before jumping into Big 12 action next week.
Although the Bears are only giving up an average of 26 points per game Rice is potentially the most potent offense Baylor will have faced yet. As weird as it sounds Rice may be the perfect test for the Bears.
While Rice will be able to move the ball, just like the Texas game, the score will probably not reflect the Owls' offensive success. Baylor has the ability to run away with games although these Bears have yet to live up to their full potential yet this season.
Much like Rice, the Bears' offense has been very balanced so far. The biggest difference in this game is that Baylor has the ability to finish drives whereas Rice has only managed to score on 85 percent (62nd nationally) of their trips into the red zone this season.
The score could be lower than many expect simply due to the fact that Rice may be able to run some clock by sustaining drives. But Baylor is just way too good for this game to be close.
Prediction: Baylor 60, Rice 24
— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.