North Texas (2-5) at Rice (3-3) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice Stadium (47,000) -- Houston, Texas. Television: FSN. Home Record: UNT 2-2, Rice 1-1. Away Record: UNT 0-3, Rice 2-2. Neutral Record: UNT 0-0, Rice 0-0. Conference Record: UNT 0-3, Rice 1-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: Two teams trending in opposite directions will meet up at Rice Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Rice Owls play host to the North Texas Mean Green in Conference USA action.
Since a modest 2-2 start to the campaign, North Texas has hit a slide in recent weeks with three straight losses to dip to 0-3 in league action. The Mean Green most recently dropped a 30-20 home decision versus Southern Miss last weekend, and now they head back out on the road where they are winless in three tries.
Meanwhile, Rice has turned its season around of late, rebounding from an 0-3 start to pull to .500 with three consecutive victories. The Owls earned their first C-USA win of the season at Southern Miss on Sept. 27 (41-23) then followed that up with a pair of non-conference triumphs over Hawaii (28-14) and Army (41-21).
Each team has defeated the other twice in the all-time series. In the first meeting as C-USA rivals last October, North Texas came away with a 28-16 victory.
Although North Texas' yearly offensive numbers are respectable (30.4 ppg, 349.9 ypg), a 77-point outburst against Nicholls State on Sept. 20 has skewed those averages. The unit amassed 395 yards last week but managed to score just 20 points.
Andrew McNulty earned the start last week under center and threw for 287 yards on 20-of-35 passing. McNulty is completing 55.6 percent of his passes this season for 509 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Dajon Williams (.592 completions, 603 yards, seven TDs, four INTs) and Josh Greer (.480, 171 yards, two INTs) are also in the mix.
The carousel of quarterbacks has not hindered Carlos Harris' great season, as he ranks first in C-USA in receiving yards (558) and tied for third in catches (42) while scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Antoinne Jimmerson (385 yards, four TDs) and Reggie Pegram (289 yards, four TDs) have split work evenly in the backfield with 73 carries apiece.
The Mean Green's defense has not stood out this season, allowing 32.0 ppg and 396.9 ypg, although the unit has been solid in the takeaway battle with eight interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
Derek Akunne has nearly twice as many tackles as any of his teammates with 65 stops to go with two forced fumbles. James Jones (34 tackles) has a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Chad Polk has recorded 4.5 sacks.
Since scoring 17 points or less in its first two games of the season, Rice's offense has caught fire by scoring 40 points or more in three of its last four contests, upping its season averages to 29.8 ppg and 425.2 ypg.
Orchestrating the offensive attack is Driphus Jackson, who's completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 1,185 yards with 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He's also picked up 190 rushing yards, and he had the best outing of his career in the team's latest win over Army (15-of-21, 209 yards, three TDs, zero INTs).
The Owls are a run-heavy team, picking up 201.2 ypg on the ground. Jowan Davis is a workhorse with 121 carries for 517 yards and two touchdowns, and Darik Dillard also earns plenty of work with 407 yards and six scores on 74 attempts.
A modest receiving corps is led by Zach Wright (19 receptions, 219 yards, two TDs) and Mario Hull (14 receptions, 265 yards, three TDs).
Much like the offense, Rice's defense (31.5 ppg, 418.0 ypg) is trending in the right direction by allowing just 19.3 ppg during its three-game winning streak.
Sixteen players have double-digit tackles, led by Jaylon Finner and his 30 stops. Brian Nordstrom anchors the defensive line with 8.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks.
Rice has shown great improvement and is playing its best football of the year, while North Texas is experiencing the opposite, meaning the Owls should have no problem coming away victorious in front of their home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rice 41, North Texas 23Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 25, 12 p.m. (ET)