Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Texas Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Rice

By J.J. Pesavento
December 30 * 8:00 PM * NFL Network

The Rice Owls have not won a bowl game since 1954 and will look to end that streak with their record-breaking offense led by quarterback Chase Clement. Clement accounted for a total of 52 touchdowns in 2008. His primary weapons will be Jarrett Dillard and James Casey, who combined for 183 receptions, over 2,400 yards receiving and 31 touchdowns. Casey is also a threat in the running game (six scores), as is Clement (11 scores), who had nearly as many carries as leading rusher C. J. Ugokwe. If there is a concern for Rice, it lies on the defensive side of the ball. The Owls rank near the bottom in every major category on defense. Western Michigan will also be looking to end a streak. The Broncos have only appeared in three bowl games and they’ve never won one. They also live by the pass with quarterback Tim Hiller leading the aerial attack. Hiller has a number of targets in Jamarko Simmons, Schneider Julien and Juan Nunez. The Broncos also have a solid back to tote the rock in Brandon West, who can be a threat coming out of the backfield as well as returning kickoffs. The Broncos’ defense is also weak against the pass, but they defend the run better and allow fewer points per game than Rice.

Inside the Numbers – Pass, Run & Catch

Western Michigan Broncos (9-3, 6-2)

Pass: Tim Hiller – 2,527 yards, 34 TDs
Run: Brandon West – 970 yards, 8 TDs
Catch: Jamarko Simmons – 98-1,184-7 TDs

Rice Owls (9-3, 7-1)

Pass: Chase Clement – 3,812 yards, 41 TDs
Run: C.J. Ugokwe – 755 yards, 2 TDs
Catch: Jarett Dillard – 79-1,224-19 TDs

Photo Credit: Rice University