Posted: Aug 29, 2013 1:09 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2013 1:10 PM
Rice at No.7 Texas A&M, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Texas A&M by 27.
Series record: Texas A&M 50-27-2.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Texas A&M has its eyes on a national title in Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel's second season. But the Aggies will have to wait until the second half against Rice to see their star quarterback after he was suspended for a half on Wednesday for what the school called an "inadvertent" violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs. The Aggies have won six straight games dating back to last season and Rice has a five-game winning streak.
Texas A&M's offensive line vs. the Rice defensive line. Texas A&M's offensive line is expected to be strength of the team despite the loss of left tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall NFL draft pick. Jake Matthews has moved to left tackle and will be joined on the line by little brother Mike Matthews at center. They are sons of NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. DE Cody Bauer leads Rice's line after piling up 12 tackles for losses, including 5.5 sacks last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Rice: CBs Bryce Callahan and Darrion Pollard. The two will have to pick up the slack with the absence of Conference-USA preseason defensive player of the year Phillip Gaines against Texas A&M's powerful passing game. Gaines was suspended for Saturday's game for violating a team rule. Saturday will be Pollard's first game back after being injured in Rice's opener in 2012.
Texas A&M: Backup QBs. The Aggies will use either junior Matt Joeckel or freshman Kenny Hill in the first half in place of Manziel. Joeckel is more of a pocket passer and Hill is a dual-threat quarterback. Joeckel, Luke's brother, has thrown 11 passes in his college career. Hill starred at Texas high school powerhouse Southlake Carroll.
FACTS & FIGURES
This is the first meeting between these teams since the Southwest Conference disbanded after the 1995 season. ... They met every year from 1914-95. ... Texas A&M has won 15 straight over Rice with the Owls last win coming in 1980. ... Texas A&M has gained 400 or more yards in a school-record 12 straight games. ... The series was held at Rice every year from 1957-67 because Rice Stadium held 70,000 and Kyle Field held just 42,500.