Week 2 Preview: UH looks to extend Bayou Bucket winning streak
It’s that time of the year again. The 45th Bayou Bucket game is upon us, taking place at Rice Stadium on Saturday night.
With last week’s victory against UTSA, the Cougars’ are looking to continue their winning start to their first Big 12 season before beginning their conference schedule against TCU in Week 3.
Since their first match-up in 1971, Houston is 33-11 against the Owls. The current win streak is held by Houston at seven games, the longest winning streak for Houston in the rivalry’s history. However, with Rice not on the schedule for UH in the future, this rivalry may find itself in another hiatus as it had in the mid-2010s.
Last year, UH escaped with a 34-27 win to retain the Bayou Bucket trophy, beating Rice via a stop on the final play of the game.
Recap of Week 1
Houston is coming off a close 17-14 win over UTSA. Although UH won and the defense looked formidable, the pace was a little slower than expected.
The slower pace was somewhat planned as head coach Dana Holgorsen hinted that he wanted to give transfer quarterback Donovan Smith some time to adjust to the playstyle of Houston, but seems ready to open up more for the Rice game and the season in general.
Rice had a tough first week falling to Texas 37-10, quarterback J.T. Daniels threw for 149 yards and one touchdown.
New kids on the block
Both Houston and Rice have moved to bigger conferences, giving the teams more ground to stand on. With the departure of Oklahoma and Texas announced in 2021, Houston was able to join the Big 12 and finally become a Power 5 school. Rice joined UH’s previous conference, the American Athletic Conference, soon after UCF’s departure from the conference was announced.
New quarterback brawl
Both Smith and Daniels have had unique paths to get where they are now., having played a combined 53 Power 5 games.
Daniels has had quite the journey in college football. His best season was his true freshman year in 2018 at USC, having committed there as a five-star recruit. Daniels threw for a little over 2,600 yards. In 2019, he started one game before starting his ACL. Daniels then transferred to Georgia in 2020, where he lost the starting job to Stetson Bennett IV in the team’s national championship year in 2021. His next move was to West Virginia where he started 10 games on a team that finished near the bottom of the Big 12. Daniels then entered the transfer portal for the third time, where he landed at Rice
Smith, on the other hand, spent his first three seasons at Texas Tech, getting sporadic starting time and notably beating Houston last year thanks to a miraculous 4th down and 20 conversions. After the 2022 season concluded, Holgorsen was in need of experience heading into the Big 12, and Smith was looking for more consistent playing time. Once Smith entered the portal, it was an easy match to make and Smith joined UH competing for and eventually winning the starting job.
Offensive standouts on both sides
Sophomore receivers Samuel Brown and Matthew Golden are popular targets for Smith and could play a huge role this week against the Owls. Brown is coming off of 100-yard performance against UTSA, and while Golden was mostly quiet, Smith did find him in the endzone for the game-sealing touchdown.
Also if the running game can bounce back from a bad Week 1, UH should be able to overpower Rice offensively.
Daniels also has some weapons, starting with redshirt junior Luke McCaffrey, and the little brother to 49ers star Christain McCaffrey. McCaffrey has the potential to have another big game against the Cougars after going for 121 yards and a touchdown last year. He was the only player who scored a touchdown for Rice last week.