Rice football faces their toughest task of the season on Saturday as they travel to Death Valley to take on the SEC’s LSU Tigers. Mike Bloomgren and the team remain confident.
There won’t be many people around the country that have a Nov. 17, 2018 matchup between Rice and LSU circled on their calendars. From a national perspective, it’s a vaunted SEC superpower against a lowly Group of 5 opponent. While that might be the trend, Rice football seeks to be the exception.
“They’re going to be more talented than us,” head coach Mike Bloomgren freely admitted in his Tuesday press conference prior to the game. “But every week in college football you see a team go into one of those places [and win].” Bloomgren said every week there’s one game that forces you to do a double-take when you check the score on your phone and gasp, “Those dudes beat them?”
Old Dominion toppled Virginia Tech, Akron beat Northwester and Eastern Washington upset Purdue. A massive upset happens every week. Why not this week? Why not Rice? Bloomgren didn’t shy away from the possibility, remarking “Nobody outside of these walls believes we can do it and we know we can.”
The key to engineering the upset starts with cleaning up mistakes from last weekend. Quarterback Sean Stankavage’s three interceptions were at the top of Bloomgren’s gripes against Louisiana Tech. The running game, primarily on the legs of Aston Walter was better, but still has a long way to go until it gets back to the level this team is capable of.
The team is confident, but measured. Safety Prudy Calderon, who picked off two passes against Louisiana Tech knows they’re in for an arduous task. LSU is a team that he described as having that “one shot capability” – something Rice has struggled with throughout this season. Calderon’s insertion into the starting lineup has helped, but the secondary as a whole will have to step up their game even further.
“Our guys are up for the challenge,” Calderon declared, echoing Bloomgren’s believe in his team and hopes for Saturday. It’s gong to be a battle. Rice knows if they’re still standing in the fourth quarter they’ll have a shot. That’s all they’re asking for.