Rice 31, UTEP 13: Mario Hull had 150 yards receiving and a touchdown, and Darik Dillard scored twice to lead the host Owls to the Conference USA victory.
Rice, which had its six-game winning streak snapped last week, kept its West Division title hopes alive with its fourth straight win in the series after getting 227 yards passing and 53 rushing from Driphus Jackson. Dillard finished with 43 yards on eight carries including a pair of short touchdown runs for the Owls (7-4, 5-2).
Jameill Showers finished 17-for-30 for 209 yards for UTEP (6-5, 4-3) but the Miners managed just 262 yards of offense and had only 99 in the first half. Ian Hamilton had four catches for 130 yards, but left with an arm injury late in the fourth quarter.
Dillard capped a 10-play drive with a 5-yard scoring run in the final minute of the first half to give Rice a 10-3 lead at the break. Jordan Taylor hauled in a 24-yard scoring pass from Jackson on the Owls’ first possession of the second half to extend the lead to 17-3, but UTEP got a short field goal and Showers scored on a 5-yard run on a drive set up by an interception to close the gap to 17-13.
Dillard’s second rushing touchdown, a 3-yarder, pushed Rice in front 24-13 late in the third quarter and the Owls took control when Hull grabbed a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to make it 31-13 with 5:41 to go. That drive began after the Miners botched a punt return with nine minutes to play.