2023 First Responder Bowl – Texas St vs Rice

2023 First Responder Bowl – Texas St vs Rice

posted December 17

The Game

It’s time to celebrate all the wonderful and brave FIRST RESPONDERS ** including FIRE MARSHALL BILL as the Texas St Bobcats do battle with the Rice Owls. HOOT HOOT finished the regular season mid-pack in the AAC (6-6 overall, 4-4 AAC) and won their final two games of the season (Charlotte, Rice) to become bowl eligible. The Bobcats were one of the more exciting teams to watch in the Group of Five this year as they were the ultimate BOX OF CHOCOLATES. You never knew what you were gonna get from week to week. They achieved bowl eligibility relatively quickly and roll into this game with a record of 7-5.

** except maybe not dancing TikTok nurses who worry more about masked-up dance routines than saving a guy bleeding out on the floor from seven gunshot wounds

The Details

Texas St -4.5 Rice (60.5)


“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Texas St 32.5 Rice 28

Texas St offense vs Rice defense

The Bobcats have no problems moving the ball on the ground (#22 FBS rushing offense) or thru the air (#23). They’re a high-powered outfit that can put points up in a hurry BUT they’re also prone to going on annoying droughts during the game and they just LOVE to fumble the football (21, #116 FBS; 14 lost, #132). QB TJ Finley is very good (24-8 TD to INT), they’ve got a 1.200-yard RB in Ismail Mahdi, and they boast a trio (!) of dangerous WRs who’ve combined for over 2,300 yards and 19 TDs (Hobert, Hawkins, Wilson). Rice’s stop unit has been average (#4 AAC pass efficiency D, #7 run D) and it seems to us that the Bobcats’ implied team total looks about right.

Rice offense vs Texas St defense

The Owls have struggled to get much going on the ground (#112 FBS rushing offense) but they’ve got a legit #1 RB in Dean Connors (707, 6.7 5 TD) who does a good job in the THROW GAME (42 receptions, 395 yards, 3 TD). WR Luke McCaffrey is LOCK CITY to go over the 1,000-yard mark is this game assuming that he plays (963, 12 TD) and QB AJ Padgett is a decent replacement for JT Daniels who’s retired from football. The good news for HOOT HOOT is that the Bobcats don’t play much defense (#104 total defense, #77 run D, #113 pass efficiency D) and we don’t see Rice having much trouble moving the football in this game. They’re just not overly explosive.

Trends, Intangibles and More!

This is the 6th season of the Mike Bloomgren regime and it’s only the 2nd time the Owls have made a bowl game under his watch….They fell to Southern Miss last year in the Lending Tree Bowl (L 38-24)……..This is the first bowl appearance in Texas St history (!) so there’s no doubt they’ll be JACKED UP to get that win.


This promises to be an entertaining game and we perceive a bit of line “value” with Rice. It’s just hard to play against a team making their first ever bowl appearance as every dood on that team wants to be a LIVING LEGEND and tell their grandchildren they were on that 2023 Texas St team back in the day.


No leanage

‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.