UNT-Rice five things

North Texas wide receiver Greg White catches a pass during North Texas' loss to Houston last season in Houston.

North Texas is expected to emerge from a monthlong hiatus caused by cancelations and postponements related to the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, when the Mean Green are set to host Rice. 

UNT (2-3) is 1-2 in Conference USA play after knocking off Middle Tennessee in its last game all the way back on Oct. 17. Rice has also been impacted by the coronavirus and is 1-1 after splitting two C-USA games.

Here are five things UNT fans should know about Rice:

1. The Owls got a late start this season

Rice announced earlier this fall that it was pushing the start of fall practice back to the end of September. 

By the time all was said and done, the Owls either postponed or canceled their first four games of the season. Rice has since lost to Middle Tennessee in double overtime and beaten Southern Miss.

The Owls last two games against UTSA and Louisiana Tech were both postponed. Few programs have been hit as hard as Rice when it comes to games being wiped off its schedule.

2. Rice was on the wrong end of a highlight play

When college football fans look back on the 2020 season, Rice's ill-fated attempt at a game-winning field goal against MTSU will be among the highlights.

Yes, we're talking about what will be known in history as the Quadruple-Doink. 

Rice kicker Collin Riccitelli lined up for what would have been a 45-yard, game-winning field goal in overtime. The kick hit off the right upright, bounded off the crossbar, back up and off the left upright and off the crossbar again before falling forward into the end zone.

MTSU went on to win the game 40-34 in double overtime.

3. Rice is good up front defensively

Rice is allowing just 109 rushing yards per game. UNT coach Seth Littrell and his players attributed the Owls' success largely to a stout defensive front.

Defensive tackle Elijah Garcia has 13 tackles in two games, while defensive end Trey Schuman has three tackles for loss and a sack. Rice's front has the ability to hold the line of scrimmage so its linebackers can run and make plays.

4. Rice appears to have found its quarterback

Mike Collins has made quite the tour when it comes to highly regarded academic institutions in his college career. He played at Penn and TCU before landing at Rice.

He's been a hit for the Owls. 

Collins is averaging 237.5 passing yards per game and has eight touchdown passes with just one interception. He's started both of the Owls' games this year.

5. Rice recruits from across the country

Rice is one of the few Group of Five schools in Texas that invests considerable resources recruiting outside the state.

The strategy allows the Owls to capitalize on the school's reputation as an elite academic institution. Rice's roster includes players from 19 states, compared to just five in 2017.

Linebacker Blaze Alldredge is one of Rice's top players came to the school from Los Angeles Pierce College. Linebacker Antonio Montero is another key player for Rice and is from Minnesota.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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