Rice football needs to spice things up in their non-conference schedule. Which teams would you like to see the Owls add in the future?
Scheduling news rises to the surface every offseason. As long as there are no actual games to discuss, the talk of potential future games must tide football fans over until kickoff in the fall. This offseason Rice has scheduled future games with Louisianna-Lafayette, Northwestern and Texas Southern. Some of those game are more exciting than others, but they’re all going to be played — for better or worse. That begs the question, which teams should the Owls be scheduling?
The historicity of college football, and Rice football for that matter, extends well beyond the reaches of Conference USA. The conference is the Owl’s home right now, but Old Dominion and UTEP aren’t exactly marquee matchups. Rice has to abide by their conference schedule, but non-conference opponents are up to the Owls.
Rice can go two ways. They can bus in the Prairie View A&M’s of the world to South Main and use their non-conference scheduling to secure a few easier games to enhance their chances at bowl eligibility. Or, they can trust that coach Mike Bloomgren can find enough wins in conference play and schedule some more challenging, and frankly more interesting games. The latter is more exciting, and hopefully the direction the Owls take later down the road.
Here are three teams that the Owls need to get on the schedule in the near future.
After a brief hiatus, Rice got Houston back on the schedule in 2017. The Owls record against Houston all-time (11-30) isn’t superb, but the proximity of the two schools lends itself to a perfect geographical rivalry. Just because the Cougars have the step up right now doesn’t mean they’ll have the upper hand forever.
Rice needs a rival. It’s not a prerequisite to becoming a premier program, but an intense rivalry can put even the more modest schools on the map. From the Egg Bowl (Ole Miss v Mississippi State) to the Civil War (Oregon v Oregon State) the rivalry game is a critical part of the college football ethos. Houston seems to make the most immediate sense, which makes an annual game with the Cougars an absolute must.
Adding a Power 5 team on an annual basis might be a tough sell, but scheduling a home-and-home or even a neutral site game is definitely a viable option. That opportunity might be more palatable for a team that already has ties to Rice — Arkansas.
The Owls and the Razorbacks were members of the Southwest Conference together from 1915 to 1991. During that time the two met 67 times, with Arkansas holding the lead in the series 35-29-3 after winning 10 of the last 11 meetings. Rice might not be up to SEC-caliber just yet, but Arkansas is closer to the bottom of the SEC than the top and the history between the schools could make for a fascinating storyline.
3. Kansas State
Unlike Houston or Arkansas, Kansas State doesn’t have any sort of historical ties to Rice. What they do have is a legacy coach that always finds a way to make more out of less. Kansas State doesn’t dominate in the recruiting realm but they always produce hard-nosed football teams.
Kansas State would serve as an excellent litmus test for the Owls as they continue to aspire to bigger and better things. Coach Bill Snyder isn’t perfect, but his teams typically don’t beat themselves. The Wildcats could be the perfect proving ground for Bloomgren and his team. Win or lose, they’ll develop a better understanding of where they stand as a program.
Houston, Arkansas and Kansas State would all make incredible additions to the Rice football schedule going forward. Who do you want to see Rice play in the future? Leave your answer in the comments or lets us know on Twitter.