Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/16/12
SMU can secure a bowl berth with a win in either of its two remaining games, but neither will be easy. On Saturday, the Mustangs (5-5, 4-2 in C-USA) play at Rice, where SMU has won just once since 1986. The Owls (4-6, 2-4) are also in the hunt for a bowl berth but, unlike SMU, has no margin for error. If SMU doesn't win Saturday, it will have to beat Tulsa at home next weekend. Tulsa is merely 6-0 in C-USA and 8-3 overall. Obviously, SMU would rather not have to beat a surging Tulsa to secure a record fourth-straight bowl berth. "We have to win on the road," SMU coach June Jones said. "In this conference, you have to win at home and steal some on the road. We've already lost one on the road this year at Tulane, so we have to win this week." SMU is 1-3 on the road this season, with the lone win coming at 2-8 UTEP. History says playing Rice will be a struggle for SMU. The Mustangs lost 10 straight games in Houston until Jones' 2010 squad broke the steak with a 42-31 win at Rice Stadium. The Owls are coming off a bye week, meaning they've had two weeks to prepare for the Mustangs. With a win over SMU and UTEP, the Owls will go bowling for the first time since 2008. After enduring a four-game losing streak, including an 0-3 start in C-USA play, the Owls still have plenty to play for. "It's a tribute to this football team," Rice coach David Bailiff said. "They've endured the hard times and kept working. That's what we're continuing to do. We're going to keep working and we need to play well against SMU. They're 4-2 in conference and are playing well right now." The Mustangs are playing so well, having won three of their last four, they could secure the C-USA West division title if they win out and Tulsa loses to UCF. SMU's improvement is the result of an opportunistic defense and special teams. The Mustangs are tied for the national lead in total takeaways with 30 and interceptions returned for touchdowns with six. Offensively, the running game has become an even bigger part of the Run and Shoot with the emergence of quarterback Garrett Gilbert as a running threat. Gilbert ran for touchdowns of 36 and 19 yards in last week's 34-6 win over Southern Miss, giving him four rushing TDs in his last two games. In fact, Gilbert's 94 rushing yards against Southern Miss eclipsed running back Zach Line's 92 yards. Line still managed to top 1,000 yards for the third season in a row. "We still need to throw the ball more efficiently," Jones said. "One of the reasons for (our passing trouble) is that the protections has not been as good as it could have been, and we haven't been accurate with the football. But I think Garrett competes and he is doing a lot of things to help us win, and that's what a quarterback is supposed to do." The running game has also been a path to success for Rice. The Owls have had four players rush for 100 yards in a game one of only five Football Bowl Subdivision teams who can make that claim. One of those 100-yard rushers, quarterback Taylor McHargue, leads Rice in both passing (1,674 yards, 9 TDs) and rushing (573 yards, 10 TDs). "Their quarterback has been pretty efficient, and I think that they could have won three other games," Jones said. "They are doing what David (Bailiff) wants them to do on both sides of the ball and it will be a tough game for us. We will have to play perfect to win." Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Russell Westbrook leads NBA in scoring, averages a triple-double… and will not start in All-Star Game

John Tortorella challenges LeBron: “Not a chance” he could play hockey

Orioles, Mark Trumbo close to agreeing on 3-year deal

Report: Khris Middleton could return before All-Star break

Over a dozen Steelers players dealing with the flu

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Mularkey: Marcus Mariota ‘should be ready’ for 2017 season

WATCH: Angry fan interrupts Chargers Los Angeles presser

Serena Williams forced a reporter to apologize for saying she played poorly

Pablo Sandoval has 'reshaped himself' this offseason, John Farrell says

Report: Seahawks could lose second-rounder for not disclosing Sherman injury

Kemba Walker on if he should be an All-Star: ‘Not really,'

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Melo out: How the Knicks can move on from their superstar

Was Jack Capuano the right person to blame for Isles' woes?

Ten NBA players who need a change of scenery

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 1

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

QUIZ: Name every NCAA men's and women's basketball team with perfect regular seasons

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Melo out: How the Knicks can move on from their superstar

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker