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Rice 37, UT-El Paso 30

BAM!  Myron Morrison lowers boom on UTEP QB (David Speed Elder photo)

Bradley Rozner scoots for 36 yards with TJ's pass, first quarter (David Speed Elder photo)

HOUSTON (Nov. 6) -- This was a game the Rice Owls won by landing a whole lot of punches – and making sure they got in the last one.  If it had been a boxing match, our guys would’ve won on points. Come to think of it they did win on points.

So it was that every time UTEP made an offensive statement, the Boys from South Main responded in kind. And the responses were hardly of the weanie-esque variety. Instead, they pounded some responsive blows that Yordan Alvarez himself would’ve been proud of.

Of  course the  Owl defense allowed the opposition to land a few punches as well, but let’s table that discussion for a time.

For now, let us celebrate Rice’s  fourth-quarter heroics, culminating in a textbook 25-yard touchdown pass from JT McMahon to Bradley Rozner with 25 seconds left in the game. That gave the Owls a 37-30 edge that put this one in the win column, and not coincidentally led to some interesting extracurricular activities after the final whistle blew.

Thing is, folks from Needville, young Bradley’s home town,  generally don’t talk loud, and don’t say much more than what’s necessary to get the point across.  Thus one must conclude that whatever Mr. Rozner told his trailing pair of UTEP  defenders after hauling in that game-winning pass was, well, something that needed to be said, no less and no more.

So what if there was a bit of jostling and pushing and shoving after that desperation  multiple-pitchback last-ditch Miner play that somehow moved the UTEP men to cross 50 yards over the field and greet the home team  as they attempted to make their way off the field. Surely it was to congratulate the Feathered Flock on such a fine effort. How could these caballeroso El Paso gentlemen ever demonstrate any disposition other than that?

On the other hand, the chin-out,  you-can-stick-it-where-the-sun-don’t-shine response perhaps was emblematic of a new resistance to yield, a tendency to dish it out rather than take it, over on South Main.

And heaven knows the Blue and Gray are going to be needing it, what with the last three opponents coming up on the schedule.

One more win, folks. One more win. Not going to be easy.

It’s hard to imagine Rice’s coming in and outscoring a prolific Western Kentucky team in Bowling Green after having had to take a twenty-mule -team  and a bunch of covered wagons to wherever the Sam Hill it is. Oh wait, we know where Bowling Green is, it’s the home of the Corvette Museum. No it’s not going to be easy to imagine the Red Towels doing anything but out-pointing our boys, after that taxing a journey.

But don't let that 85-point common-opponent score differential freak you out.   (WKU outpointed Charlotte last week  59-7 and the week before the 49ers beat the Owls know the rest of that algorithm.)

Next comes along the familiar WWF wrestling tag-team from San Antonio which beat the Owls last year by a score of....never mind. The problem is, they’re just plain good. UTSA has a bunch of outstanding athletes, led by an extremely able and experienced quarterback in Frank Harris and a coach who’s going to be earning big bucks in P5 soon enough.

However, the Owls get them at home, so hope’s kept alive. After all this team should’ve been undefeated at home thus far this year, except for that strange, outlying UNC Charlotte debacle.

If that contest slips into the loss category as well, there’s still hope, as much as ever.

That post-Thanksgiving game in Denton is likely to be anticlimactic for the Mean Green, who already will have achieved bowl eligibility, but likely won’t be playing for a berth in the league championship game.

UNT is a solid ball club, but not as good as their recent six-game winning streak would indicate. They are slightly better than our guys on paper. But RFND is close enough in talent and has enough in the can to make it up on the field.

So what do we do?

We give it our best shot against the Red Towels. We give it our best shot against the WWF Lucheros. If neither of those pan out, we give the toughest, meanest, strongest kiss-my-you-know-what effort seen coming from South Main in many a year, and find a way to win in Denton that Saturday after Thanksgiving.