Wake Forest used a late interception to seal a 38-35 win over visiting Utah State in its season opener. Now, they’ll take on a Rice Owls team that held Army to just 14 points a week ago.
But for the Owls, their offense will need to perform better than just seven points. While the running game excelled, pounding out 181 yards, the passing game failed to find its form resulting in the loss. Rice had several chances to win the game thanks to its defense but was unable to turn those chances into points.
As for Wake Forest, last week’s game was an uptempo one from the start. The Deacons struggled to defend against Jordan Love’s passing prowess surrendering 416 yards in the air. Fortunately for Wake Forest, they’re quarterback Jamie Newman threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns himself.
Wake Forest vs Rice
Friday, September 6, 8 p.m. EST
Coverage: CBS Sports
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by Bookmaker
Spread: Wake Forest (-19 at -105)
The Demon Deacons launched an aerial offense against Utah State last week that included three touchdown passes by Newman. He spread the wealth around to his receivers as well, hitting Sage Surratt seven times for 158 yards and Kendall Hinton nine times for 66 yards.
Going against a Rice team that ranked near the bottom of FBS with 280.9 passing yards allowed per game, the Deacons are hoping to establish themselves as one of the nation’s premier passing teams.
The only issue? Wake’s passing defense was also among the worst in FBS, allowing 262.9 yards per game last season and carrying that struggle over to this season. Though they had three interceptions last week, that wasn’t a trend last year with just six in all of 2018.
One thing about Rice is they do not beat themselves. Last year, they only took 58 total penalties for the season. Rice took just three penalties for 20 yards against Army and did not commit a turnover.
But Rice’s offense was dormant, especially quarterback Wiley Green who threw for just 62 yards. Rice averaged under 200 yards passing per game last season, a trend that looks likely to continue this season.
Rice didn’t fare much better on the ground either last season, but Nahshon Ellerbe’s 103 yards on the ground shows a sign of improvement in that department this season. The Owls could adapt to a run-heavy team that would wear down its opponents. That was the case with Army and could be the case with Wake Forest who allowed 192 rushing yards per game.
Rice has been trending under and against the spread in recent games and it’s easy to see why. Their offense sputters while their defense doesn’t make it easy to get points.
The Owls ran just 44 total offensive plays in the entire game against Army last week. Without much possession, it’s impossible for them to rack up points. While Wake Forest has shown it can gain big yards, there’s been inconsistency on that dating back to last year.
Pick: Wake Forest should cover the spread but the game won’t be high-scoring enough to hit the over.