Rice 45, UTEP 10
Oct. 26, 2013
Jordan Taylor piled up the third-most receiving yards in school history, while Taylor McHargue threw for four scores and Charles Ross rambled for 152 yards as Rice packaged its most complete game of the season to reach bowl eligibility in consecutive seasons for the second time in school history with a 45-7 win over UTEP at Rice Stadium. .
The win was the Owls' fifth-straight this year, their eighth-straight in C-USA and their 11 in the last 13 games dating back to last year. With their sixth win, the Owls will earn a bowl berth for the second consecutive year, matching the 1960 and 1961 teams as the only Rice teams to do so. It was also the Owls' largest margin of victory in nine seasons of Conference USA play and allowed them to keep pace with Tulane as C-USA's two remaining unbeaten teams in conference action.
Rice was staked to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter thanks to the powerful running of Charles Ross, who topped 100 yards early in the second stanza on his way to 153 for the game and the first of three long connections between McHargue and Taylor. Their 60-yard effort put the Owls up 10-0 but UTEP found its footing on the next series as Blaire Sullivan hit Ian Hamilton with a 50-yard scoring pass. This is the third time Bailiff has led the Owls to bowl eligibility in his seven seasons and ironically each of his three teams reached the threshold with a defeat of the Miners and Saturday's encounter seemed early to be on pace for another in a long series of wild offensive shootouts until a last-gasp dive by Julius White foiled an apparent long scoring run by UTEP.
With Rice holding a 17-7 lead with just over five minutes left in the half, UTEP's Aaron Jones bounced outside on a running play and set sail for the Owls end zone. White was the man to have a shot and he tripped up Jones with his dive at the Rice three. After one carry for no gain, Jones again attack the line of scrimmage, only to have Michael Kutzler loosen the ball from his grip, Paul Porras deliver a blow to knock the ball free and Ross Winship fall on the loose ball to end the Miner's last serious scoring threat.
After fending off the UTEP strike deep at the end of the first half, the Rice defense held the Miners scoreless in the second.
After being quiet for most of the third quarter, McHargue and Taylor gave the crowd a jolt late in the quarter when they connected for 72 yards and a score, then added a third connection from 23 yards early in the fourth.
Taylor finished the day with 185 yards and three touchdowns on just four receptions. This yardage total was the third highest in school history, topped only by James Casey's 208 and David Houser's 196. McHargue threw for 259 yards on just eight completions, including a career-high four for touchdowns.
Ross became the eighth Owl in history to rush for 2,000 career yards early in the game and moved all the way to sixth on the career list, finishing the night with 2,088.