The Rice defense is a mystery that demands attention. They were terrible in the red zone (5.4 per possession, 116th worst nationally), terrible at preventing explosive plays (119th per pass and 110th per run), terrible at defending the run (5.6 yards per attempt, 107th Expected Points Added per rush), and yet they allowed fewer points per game than 45 other teams and fewer points per possession (2.2) than 50 teams. Thirty points per game is not good, but 4.9 yards per carry (5.6 when we exclude sacks), 14.4 yards per reception, and 72% TDs in the red zone should add up to more. A high fumble rate - 1.8% - helps (opponents coughed up the ball once every 55 plays, which is more than most). More important, Rice allowed 56.3% completions, which was critical in holding opponents to 5.5 plays per possession (4.8 if we include special team turnovers as possessions). In short, Rice kept scoring down by forcing turnovers on 15% of possessions (including special team turnovers) and by allowing field goals on only 4.4% of possessions.
On offense, Rice was plain. They ran the ball 61% of the time, rarely broke long plays, and kicked a lot of field goals. If they had converted field goals into touchdowns they would have been top 15 in points per game, but instead the Owls were 41st.
The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.
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