Rice football hasn’t won a season opener since 2015. Besting FCS foe Prarie View A&M in 2018 should provide the Owls with an early chance to build momentum.
It’s been three seasons since Rice football won their opening game. Perhaps not coincidentally three years ago was the last time Rice came anywhere close to a postseason appearance, finishing 5-7 in 2015 and just missing out on a bowl invitation.
Getting within striking distance of a bowl game should be the goal for year one of the Mike Bloomgren era. Winning the first game of his tenure is an important piece of that roadmap. The Owls open the 2018 season against Prarie View A&M at Rice Stadium. Not only will the Owls be heavy favorites in that game, it’ll be one of only two games this season that feel like “gimmes”, at least out of the gate.
Rice’s other likely opportunity for a victory will come Nov. 3 when they host UTEP who failed to win a single game last season. The quest for four more additional wins on top of that will be challenging and the margin for error will be slim to none. That makes defeated the Prarie View Panthers on Aug. 25 all the more important.
Despite the Panthers proximity to Houston, the two have only met on the gridiron once before. Rice defeated Prairie View 65-44 in 2016, one of three wins in David Bailiff’s penultimate campaign. Prarie View won’t go out without a fight, but the Owls should be able to take care of business if they’re able to neutralize quarterback Neiko Hollins who through for 1,853 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.
A loss in the opener, especially to an FCS squad, would be an inauspicious beginning for a coaching regime that, up to this point, has shown plenty of promise. Rice should handle PVAMU rather easily, setting up the Owls for what looks to be a promising year under their new head coach.