The first Bayou Bucket since 2013 carried more meeting than usual in a city still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. In a show of thanksgiving and solidarity, both teams met at midfield for a pre-game handshake. The Rice MOB joined the Spirit of Houston at halftime for a tear-rending performance of "Amazing Grace," and Mayor Sylvester Turner was on hand to recognize first responders. The game itself, however, was pretty one-sided, as the Cougars bested their crosstown rivals for the fourth time in a row.
The Good: Houston QB Kyle Allen had an excellent evening, completing 31 of 33 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Mulbah Car, Duke Catalon and Dillon Birden each scored a rushing touchdown. The defense forced three Rice turnovers and kept the Owls out of the endzone. The Coogs had no turnovers of their own and were only penalized two times for ten yards.
The Bad: Kicker Caden Novikoff's 46-yard field goal attempt was short; he is now just 2-4 on FG attempts for the season. Rice's two offensive playmakers, QB Sam Glaesmann and WR Samuel Stewart, were forced out of the game with injuries. And, although I know it was because the Cougars were well ahead at the half and decided to put in their second string offense (including QB Kyle Postma), this is the second game in a row that Houston has failed to score any points in the second half. The Cougars went for it on fourth and goal from wth Rice one yard line early in the third quarter and still weren't able to score. I don't care if it is your second team; you should still be able to score in that situation.
The Ugly: Rice fan attendance. I'm not sure they even had a thousand fans at the game, and that includes the MOB. It never ceases to amaze me that so many Rice fans cannot be bothered to drive seven whole miles from their campus to support their team.
What it means: The Cougars looked a lot sharper than they did a week ago against Arizona, which suggests that last week's sloppiness truly was the result of rustiness and hurricane-related distractions. That being said, Rice is not a very good team so it's hard to use this game to determine just how "good" the Cougars really are this season. The real test will come next Saturday, when the Coogs host former SWC rival Texas Tech in a nationally-televised matchup.
The Cougars now lead the all-time series against Rice, 30 games to 11.