With the LSU game canceled, Rice Football has an open weekend on their schedule. Here are a few schools the Owls could seek out to fill the gap.
Schedules are going to look different in 2020. Rice football has lost one game to cancelation so far. Multiple conference peers are missing multiple games, and the Big 12 has yet to announce their decision. That could come after school presidents meet on Monday, but no one knows for sure at this point.
What we do know is that Rice won’t be playing LSU on September 19. That game was nixed when the SEC opted for a conference-only schedule this season. Rice athletic director Joe Karlgaard indicated he might make some calls and look into who else might be free on that date, but wasn’t in a rush to nail down a replacement game immediately with Power 5 schedules still in flux.
If Rice Football does decide to fill their open date, who should the Owls add to the schedule? Here are six picks, based on who is available and geographic fits.
Originally scheduled to visit the Swamp and play Florida on September 19, the Jaguars were freed up with the same SEC decision that cleared the Owls calendar. Rice and South Alabama have never met on the gridiron.
If Rice opts to go the FBS rout, this would be one of the more manageable drives. The two campuses are a seven-hour bus ride apart. South Alabama just constructed brand new Hancock Whitney Stadium which is expected to open for the first time this fall. If Rice were to make the road trip, a closer destination and brand new facilities would be an optimal fit.
Rice and Troy have only met on the football field once. The Trojans defeated the Owls in the New Orleans Bowl in 2006. Troy was meant to host NC State on September 19th. The ACC’s ruling allowed for each school to play one non-conference game, but specified it must take place in the state of the ACC school. Unless Troy wants to fly to North Carolina, this game is likely to get the axe.
It takes a little more than nine hours to drive between Rice and Troy campuses. That’s probably pushing the limits on a day trip, but it’s probably still doable given the circumstances.
The Red Wolves won’t be making their previously scheduled trip to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines on September 19th, opening things up for a potential pairing with Rice. These two schools have never met despite playing in bordering states.
Jonesboro, AR is roughly nine hours away from Houston, putting it on the fringe of driving distance along with Troy.
Charlotte would be an unconventional pick, and the 49ers might not be free on that date just yet. They were scheduled to play Duke on Septemeber 17th, which would still be allowed to happen under the ACC’s same-state non-conference guidance. Duke is also scheduled to host Middle Tennessee, meaning at least one of those C-USA schools won’t be playing in Durham this season.
Rice could opt to play Charlotte in a non-conference game. Wake Forest and North Carolina did something similar last fall. Staying in C-USA would (theoretically) ensure alignment on health and safety procedures. Rice beat Charlotte in their only two meetings to date, defeating the 49ers in 2015 and 2016.
If Rice looks a bit further than driving distance, their options increase significantly. The first place to start might be the schools most in need of makeup games. BYU has lost three games so far, with contests against Michigan State (Sept. 12), Arizona State (Sept. 19), Minnesota (Sept. 26) and Missouri (Oct. 10) all canceled.
Rice could slide into what has now become a wide open stretch of weekends for BYU. Future scheduling might come into play if this game can be agreed upon. Rice is scheduled to play in Provo in 2023 with BYU making the return trip in 2025. Rice is 1-1 against BYU.
Boise State was supposed to be playing the second half of a home-and-home series with Florida State. Last year’s matchup was adjusted to avoid a hurricane. This year’s matchup could fall away should Florida State choose to go a different direction for their one allotted non-conference game.
Boise State is 1-1 with Rice. The two teams have a series on the books right now, but it doesn’t start until 2027 when the Broncos are scheduled to visit Houston. Rice would return to Boise in 2029. The Owls don’t have an open non-conference data free until 2024, but securing additional future games with a premier Group of 5 opponent would be worth looking into.
Other possible opponents
- UConn (originally scheduled to play at Virginia on Sept. 19)
- UCF (at Georgia Tech, Sept. 18)
- Air Force (at Purdue, Sept. 19)
- UNLV (at Iowa State Sept. 19)
- Toledo (at Michigan State, Sept. 19)
- Buffalo (at Ohio State, Sept. 19)
- Kent St (at Kentucky, Sept. 19)
- Bowling Green (at Illinois, Sept. 19)
- App State (at Wisconsin, Sept. 19)
Have a team you’d like to see the Owls play? Share your thoughts in the comments.