Texas State vs. Rice Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for First Responder Bowl

Dec 17, 2022; Mobile, AL, USA; Rice Owls quarterback AJ Padgett (12) sets to pass in the second
Dec 17, 2022; Mobile, AL, USA; Rice Owls quarterback AJ Padgett (12) sets to pass in the second / Robert McDuffie-USA TODAY Sports

Rice and Texas State meet in the First Responder Bowl on December 26th, the second straight appearance for the Owls, who face the upstart Bobcats, off a great season under first-year head coach GJ Kinne.

Texas State had a great season under Kinne with a high-octane offense, while Rice will be onto its backup quarterback in AJ Padgett, who played in the bowl game last year and has shown to be capable in a handful of situations. Can he keep up in what could be one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season?

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Texas State vs. Rice Odds, Spread and Total

Rice vs. Texas State Betting Trends

Texas State vs. Rice How to Watch

  • Date: Tuesday, December 26th
  • Game Time: 5:30 PM EST
  • Venue: Gerald J. Ford Stadium
  • How to Watch (TV): ESPN
  • Texas State Record: 7-5
  • Rice Record: 6-6

Texas State vs. Rice Key Players to Watch

Texas State

TJ Finley: Kinne joined from Incarnate Word as the head coach and revitalized this Texas State offense, posting a top 20 EPA/Play mark. Finley also benefitted after transferring down from SEC Auburn, completing 69% of his passes with 24 touchdowns to only four interceptions, passing for 3,296 yards.


AJ Padgett: J.T. Daniels retired from football due to concussions, so this will be the redshirt freshman Padgett's game. He played in the losing effort last year against Southern Mississippi, passing for 295 yards and three touchdowns, while also appearing in four games this season, starting three and winning two of them. On the year, Padgett has passed for 636 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

Texas State vs. Rice Prediction and Pick

Texas State has run hot and cold during the season, on the wrong side of a 77-31 loss to Arkansas State before wrapping up the season with a 52-44 win at home against South Alabama. The team has a strong defensive line that is stout against the run, but its secondary is vulnerable to big passing plays, 122nd in EPA/Pass this season.

Padgett has showcased he's capable under center and the Rice passing game has been elite for much of the season, 19th in EPA/Pass. Rice's offense line must hold up against Texas State's defense line that is second in the country in tackles for loss, but if it does this may turn into a high-scoring affair as the team is bottom 10 in explosive play rate allowed.

Rice's defense has been above AAC average all season. The team is right around the national average in terms of yards per play (67th) and points per drive allowed (66), but the team will face an explosive Texas State offense that is 32nd in yards per play.

There aren't many opt-outs in this game, but Texas State didn't have two offensive starters play in the regular season finale, left guard Dorion Stawn and wide receiver Joey Hobert. I don't think the transfer portal will factor in too much to this game, which I make Texas State -3. Even if we adjust more towards the Bobcats on the news that Padgett will start in place of Daniels, I don't think it's a massive drop-off.

With a ton of explosive plays in store, I'll side with variance and take the underdog to hang around and make this competitive.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!