FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (50,071) -- Lawrence, Kansas. Television: FSN. Home Record: Rice 0-1, Kansas 1-0. Away Record: Rice 0-0, Kansas 0-0. Neutral Record: Rice 0-0, Kansas 0-0. Conference Record: Rice 0-0, Kansas 0-0. Series Record: Kansas leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Charlie Weis attempts to improve to 2-0 as the head coach of Kansas as his Jayhawks welcome the Rice Owls to Memorial Stadium for a non- conference battle on Saturday.
The Owls aim to even up their early season record suffering a 49-24 loss to Jim Mora's UCLA Bruins at home in their opener. Coach David Bailiff's team finished 4-8 and missed the bowl season for the third consecutive year in 2011. Rice's loss to the Bruins was highlighted by excellent special teams play. The Owls enters this week's contest versus Kansas with the two longest streaks in the country due to a lack of production in the return game. Rice has gone 309 games without a kick return for a touchdown and a 167 games without a punt return for a score.
Kansas was not overwhelming in its 31-17 season opening win over South Dakota State on Saturday. Nonetheless, the Weis era was officially kicked off with a victory as the former Notre Dame coach took over after spending 2011 as Florida's offensive coordinator. The Jayhawks have been very successful against non-Big 12 competition in recent years, winning 25 of their last 30 non-league games. KU started last season out with two victories over McNeese State and Northern Illinois before it ended the season with 10 straight losses. Weis experienced just one losing season in the five years he spent at Notre Dame.
The Owls and Jayhawks met just once before, on Dec. 16, 1961 in the Bluebonnet Bowl. Kansas downed Rice, 33-7, in that game for its first bowl win in program history. Rice is 0-20 versus members of the Big 12 since the league was created in 1996.
Rice's offense was led by junior Taylor McHargue in its opener. The Owls' quarterback completed 17-of-28 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. McHargue also set a new career-high in rushing yards (95) despite being sacked six times.
The Owls welcomed back 2010's leading rusher and receiver, Sam McGuffie, for its matchup with UCLA. McGuffie, now playing wideout exclusively, missed all of last season with an injury. He led all receivers in the contest with 63 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
Defensively, Rice did not look to be much better than last season's squad which allowed 462.1 yards and 33.3 points per game. New defensive coordinator Chris Thurmond's team appeared helpless as UCLA amassed 646 total yards (343 rushing, 303 passing).
The linebacking tandem of Cameron Nwosu and Kyle Prater tied for a team-high with nine total tackles each. Nwosu also set a new NCAA record with three blocked extra points and recorded an interception. Defensive end Jared Williams applies consistent pressure on the QB and had a sack and fumble recovery in the opener.
Former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist made his first start for Kansas against South Dakota State. The senior started out with a 43-yard pass to Kale Pick, but he finished completing only 17-of-36 attempts for 169 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
Pick finished with a team-high 81 yards, while fellow receivers Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears got into the mix with a total of nine receptions between the two.
KU's struggles to move the ball through the air were alleviated by the success of Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox on the ground. In the sophomore's second start, Pierson rushed for a career-high 124 yards and two scores on 20 carries. Cox also excelled with 121 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
The Jayhawks held the Jackrabbits to 17 points, but allowed their FCS opponent to rush for 204 yards and gain 411 total yards. KU's inability to stop the run should not be a huge issue against the pass-friendly Owls, but it will be an issue down the line.
Free safety Bradley McDonald led the way with six tackles and two interceptions against SDSU. Tyler Patmon and Corrigan Powell also managed to record an interception to help the Jayhawks hold a plus-3 advantage in turnover margin.
Like their opponent, the Jayhawks made some big plays in the special teams game and blocked two punts versus South Dakota State.
Although Kansas failed to run away from inferior competition in week one, the Jayhawks match up with Rice much better. The Owls need one of their tailbacks to emerge and establish a rushing attack against KU's shaky rush defense for Rice to have a shot of snapping its 20-game losing streak against Big 12 foes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas 38, Rice 31Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 8, 3:30 p.m. (et)