Dec. 29, 11:45 a.m. ET, Fort Worth, Texas (ESPN)
Rice take from RecruitingNation's David Helman: It'll be interesting to see how this Rice team handles the time off, given the way the Owls have played this season.
It looked like a doormat-type of season back on Oct. 6, when Memphis downed Rice 14-10 to drop the Owls to 1-5. Since then Rice has reeled off a 5-1 record, with the one loss coming to Conference USA champion Tulsa. And with the exception of a 49-47 nail-biter against Tulane, all of those wins have come by two possessions or more.
Chalk that up to the Owls' rushing attack -- ranked 30th nationally -- which is averaging 201 yards per game this season. Rice racked up 246 yards on the ground in the season-finale win against UTEP to earn bowl eligibility.
The Owls feature three players who have rushed for more than 500 yards, led by junior Charles Ross with 743 yards. Junior quarterback Taylor McHargue has 628 yards on the season and leads the team with 11 rushing touchdowns. Fellow junior Turner Petersen has contributed 510 yards and five touchdowns.
Air Force take by SoonerNation's Brandon Chatmon: It’s been a roller-coaster season for the Falcons, who won three straight games in the middle of their season before losing three of their last four.
In this era of spread-passing offenses, there’s no doubt how the Falcons are going to attack a defense. Air Force has led the Mountain West in rushing for 14 straight seasons and averaged 328.8 rushing yards per game in 2012. Senior running back Cody Getz leads the ground attack for the Falcons with 191 carries for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns.
That’s a scary proposition for a Rice defense that has allowed 5.1 yards per carry this season.
Air Force is a young squad which saw 25 different players earn the first start of their collegiate careers in 2012, so a bowl win combined with the extra bowl practices would give the Falcons terrific momentum heading into 2013.