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Monday, December 8, 2008
Texas Bowl: Western Michigan (9-3) vs. Rice (9-3)


Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Dec. 30, 8 p.m., (NFL Network)

The Texas Bowl pits two offensively similar teams in Western Michigan and Rice in what could be one of the highest scoring affairs of the bowl season.

The Broncos have won nine games for the first time since 2000 and a win in the Texas Bowl would give the Broncos 10 wins for the first time in the program's history. This after finishing 5-7 a season ago.

Western Michigan is a little more diverse than Rice because it employs a true ground game with running back Brandon West, who is 30 yards short of 1,000 for the season. Also, quarterback Tim Hiller has thrown for 3,527 yards and 34 touchdowns and has favorite targets in receiver Jamarko Simmons and tight end Branden Ledbetter.

The Owls have won six straight, seven of their last eight, and boast the 10th-best total offense in the country. Quarterback Chase Clement and receiver Jarett Dillard have more touchdown connections than any duo in NCAA history. Clement is third in the country in total offense, accounting for 369.4 total yards per game.

And the Owls' best-kept secret is tight end James Casey, who in Rice's last game against Houston, had three rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown and a touchdown pass.