It’s rarely plausible to make the claim that a 2-3 team hangs on the brinks of adversity. For a season that spans over five months, we’re scarcely into the month of October and already dealing with potential disaster for Rice University, a program that is holding some logical expectations in the Conference USA.
“Do or die” is such a cliché term to classify this situation, yet it holds an abundance of sense for David Bailiff’s Owls. It goes without saying, however, that Rice has trudged through the difficult stretch of the schedule.
The alleged “Texas Gauntlet” for the Owls saw the likes of Texas and Baylor, in which the defense was gashed for 112 points. Same story, different chapter in Week 5, as the unit suffered another 49 to Western Kentucky, evading the opportunity to surge past the .500 mark.
For Bailiff, personally, it hardly calls for panic. After packing his bags from Texas State and handling the duties in 2007, an institution baptized for its baseball notoriety surely sought rebuilding for the football team, he ultimately broke the bank: a series of years under his belt to work the kinks out and Bailiff compiled 25 wins from 2012-2014, the most in school history.
It should also be noted his teams are 17-5 after Week 5, so the only thing blockading a potential disaster is Saturday’s opponent in Florida Atlantic. Another loss added to the transcript, and problems begin clouding up for Rice, as four losses with Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi still await down the road.
A 6-6 record isn’t always the recipe for pocketing a bowl win, either. Ask fellow Conference USA affiliate, Middle Tennessee State, how that worked out a season ago.
However, it still remains an expectation that the Owls long for. According to The Houston Chronicle, players chalked up a list of attainable goals to meet before the season. They are as follows:
“– Make the Top 25.
– Make a bowl game.
– Beat Baylor and Texas.
– Win the conference title.”
You have to nod your head for such lofty objectives to be reached in upending both Baylor and Texas, yet with a pair of losses comes the shot at cracking the Top 25. A loss to Western Kentucky last weekend and bookmarked the underdog in Boca Raton and there still lies that lone target in making a fourth consecutive postseason appearance.
Freshman defensive tackle Preston Gordon also told The Houston Chronice that motivation shouldn’t be an issue.
“We talked after the game,” Gordon said. “We talked today during class. What do we have to do to win? We have a ‘whatever it takes’ type of mentality. Just do it. We do want to go to a bowl game and win from here on out.”
And for an offense that has seen its numbers dwindle the previous two weeks with only 20 combined points, you have to wonder if Bailiff attempts to pull out all the stops versus a Florida Atlantic defense that ranks 99th in the nation in points given up (32.8) and 90th in total yards (410).
A time for panic come Saturday? The string of postseason wins, and the season itself, may be in jeopardy with a Rice loss.