The descent continues. In a contest between two of the ten worst college football teams in America, Memphis was manhandled in Houston this afternoon by the Rice Owls. Down 14-3 at halftime, the Tigers fell hopelessly behind four minutes into the second half when Owl defensive lineman Jared Williams picked off a Taylor Reed pass — only Reed's second interception of the season — and returned it 47 yards for what would be an insurmountable lead for the visitors.
The Tigers intercepted a pair of Taylor McHargue passes in the first quarter — one by Terrence Thomas, another by Akeem Davis — but were unable to convert the turnovers into points. A 50-yard field goal by Paulo Henriques with 30 seconds to play in the opening quarter closed the Tigers within four points (7-3). They wouldn't be any closer the rest of the afternoon.
Memphis tailback Jerrell Rhodes returned to action after missing four games with a severe bone bruise. He carried the ball seven times for 29 yards. Wideout Marcus Rucker also returned for Memphis but caught only one pass for nine yards. Freshman quarterback Taylor Reed was ineffective, completing 15 of 30 passes for 100 yards and two interceptions. He was relieved in the second half by sophomore Andy Summerlin, who threw for 137 yards.
Rice entered the game ranked last in Conference USA defensively, allowing 549 yards per game. The Tigers gained 307. Rice outgained Memphis 180 yards to 70 on the ground.
Tannar Rehrer was the lone bright spot offensively for Memphis with 11 receptions for 89 yards.
The Tigers, now 1-5, will host East Carolina next Saturday at the Liberty Bowl, with kickoff set for 6 p.m.