Football faces battle-tested Rice in first road game

By Ahfaaz Merchant | Sports Writer

The undefeated Baylor football team will come out of their bye week to take on Rice University this weekend.

The Bears are facing an 0-3 Rice squad with losses to Army, Wake Forest and Texas. Their largest defeat came at the hands of the Longhorns, who took the victory by 35 points.

While the Bears won both of their games so far, they will go on the road against a team that has faced some tough opponents. This will present a challenge for the Bears, as their easy victories over Stephen F. Austin (56-17) and UTSA (63-14) did not present the team with much adversity, according to head coach Matt Rhule, especially since Baylor is familiar with Rice’s mindset.

“One thing I know about them is they’re battle-tested. I believe iron sharpens iron, so they’re probably pretty sharp right now. And we don’t know if we are or not,” Rhule said. “One thing we know is Coach [Mike] Bloomgren and the Stanford model, and intellectual brutality and things they believe in. They are going to have volume in what they do. We also know no matter what we practiced, they are going to do something different. We are going to have to adapt.”

Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer has yet to finish a complete game in his first two starts, allowing redshirt freshman Gerry Bohanon an opportunity to get some reps in and create some big plays. But even with limited playing time, the Bears’ veteran quarterback has recorded six touchdowns, 362 passing yards and a 70.2% completion rating. Rhule said that he plans to play his veteran QB from start to finish on Saturday night.

Despite Rice’s intricate strategy, sophomore defensive tackle James Lynch believes the Bears are ready to take on the challenge of this first road test.

“They are a very smart, very tough team,” Lynch said. “They present a very complex offense. So they got a lot of different things and they can run a lot of different plays. So on defense it’s going to challenge us, but we’re ready for them and ready to play them.”

The team might face another roadblock on their way to Houston as the city has been hit with heavy rainfall caused by Tropical Storm Imelda. But no announcements have been made as to whether the game will be moved or canceled.

Still, Rhule is excited to take his team on the road.

“I think it is great. It’s great for our players, great for our family, great for our alums, great for recruiting to have a chance to get across the state,” Rhule said. “We are just trying to take the brand and take what we’re doing and take it to the people that care about the program and people all across the state. Trying to make sure we are a good representation of what football means in Texas.”

The Bears face the Rice Owls at 6 p.m. Saturday at Rice Stadium.