The 2022 ESPN FPI projections are out. Where did Rice football come in and how much stock should we put in these projections?
ESPN has released its Football Power Index (FPI) for the 2022 season. FPI is a statistic meant to help predict team performance. Rice football (-14.5 FPI) checked in No. 10 in Conference USA, ahead of only UTEP (-15.0) in the conference. On the opposite end of the spectrum, UAB and Western Kentucky were the frontrunners.
2022 ESPN FPI
- UAB, 0.2
- WKU, -0.4
- UTSA, -2.0
- MTSU, -3.9
- FAU, -4.4
- LA Tech, -5.5
- North Texas, -6.2
- Charlotte, -7.5
- UTEP, -12.1
- Rice. -14.5
- FIU, -15.0
Last year, FPI projected Rice to finish with somewhere in the ballpark of five to seven wins. The Owls undershot that mark, winning just four. The numbers don’t project an easier road for the program this season, giving Rice football just a 4.5 percent chance of reaching six wins in 2022. If they were to prove the computers wrong it would mean the first bowl-berth for the program since 2014.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. FPI actually projects the Owls to be better at the onset of 2022 than they finished 2022 (-14.5 vs -18.1). Additionally, the majority of the Owls’ opponents are expected to be below the 0.0 average expected from the metric.
Replacing Elijah Garcia, Naeem Smith, Jordan Myers, Jovaun Woolford and Jake Constantine won’t be easy, but it doesn’t seem that much more challenging than replacing Mike Collins, Austin Trammell and Blaze Alldredge as they had to do last season. Finding a quarterback will be a challenge, but that’s not a new problem at South Main.
Ultimately, FPI projects Conference USA will be a below-average conference in 2022 with the possibility of only a handful of truly good to great teams. That’s who the Owls will have to beat if they want to return to the postseason, and they did topple UAB (the highest rated C-USA team this coming season) in Birmingham last season.
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