Rice football is becoming more palatable in the eyes of Vegas oddsmakers. Those experts tab the Owls as a fringe bowl team in 2020.
The oddsmakers haven’t loved Rice football since the program began its rebuild two seasons ago. Preseason expectations have hovered somewhere between two to three wins per season, essentially a smidge above UTEP in the Conference USA pecking order. The first signs of the oddsmakers’ changing perception of the Owls have appeared in recent days.
Even with sporting events on an indefinite hiatus, the books released their numbers. Caesar’s set the over-under on Rice football 2020 regular season wins at 5.5. Only three teams in the West (UAB, Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech) had higher totals. UAB and FAU set atop the totals with eight apiece.
5.5 wins might not seem like that much of a leap from 2.5, but three wins is quite the jump for the oddsmakers considering a 12 game season. If Rice beats the number, something those inside the walls at South Main has been readying for since their season ended, Rice would be a bowl team for the first time since 2014.
BetOnline followed a week later with odds to win Conference USA West. UAB was the favorite at 5/4 with Louisiana Tech next in line at 5/2. Then came Southern Miss at 11/4 and Rice at 14/1.
For those unfamiliar with the fractional output, 14/1 odds equate to roughly a 6.7 percent chance of Rice winning the West. That’s a low number, but it’s leaps and bounds higher than UTEP (250/1, 0.4 percent) and the Miners hired their head coach at the same time as the Owls.
Projections will only carry Rice football so far. Eventually, they’ll have to prove those expectations on the field. That’s an opportunity for which coach Bloomgren and his players are eagerly awaiting.