Panthers welcome defending C-USA Champions

By: Jorge Corrales/Staff Writer

The Panthers welcome the Rice Owls to the Cage on Nov. 1 for a Conference-USA matchup. The first ever meeting between the two schools kicks off at 12 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted live on the American Sports Network. The Panthers enter the contest with a 3-5 record overall and a 2-2 record within the conference.

The Panthers will be well rested coming off their bye week and will try and end a two-game losing skid. Head Coach Ron Turner spoke about his team on the Defo and Goldie show on 940 WINZ.

“They had some time off last week for the bye week and they came in on Sunday with great energy and great sense of urgency,” said Turner on the show. “They were ready to go. We had an excellent practice and they had another one [Tuesday]. I think our guys are really excited.”

The Panthers struggled in their latest contest against then-ranked number 25 Marshall University. The Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the Thundering Herd rallied for 45 straight points, eventually winning by a final score of 45-13.

Freshman running back Alex Gardner left the Marshall game with an apparent shoulder injury. All signs point to him being sidelined against the Owls. Redshirt junior Anthon Samuel will have to step in for Gardner, who leads the team in rushing with 582 yards.

“We’re gonna have to execute on offense, move the ball, be efficient and most importantly protect the football,” said Turner.

Rice enters the Cage on a four-game win streak and an overall record of 4-3. They are the defending Conference USA champions and have one of the best rushing attacks in the country.

“They are a really good team,” Turner said. “They’ve won four in a row and they have a lot of confidence right now.They’re rushing for almost 200 yards a game. So that’s gonna be the big thing we’ve gotta slow down. I know it’s a big challenge, knowing that they’re the defending champs and that they’ve won four in a row.”

The Panthers’ defense will have to continue to anchor the team. They enter the week ranked 31 in the nation in total defense. They are ranked first in the nation in takeaways with 25.

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