If the Owls home opener against Stanford is exported to Australia, there won’t be many chances for Rice fans to see the team play in Rice Stadium until late in the 2017 season.
The Owls have only five confirmed games at Rice Stadium and three of those will be in late October or November.
The full Conference USA schedule was announced on Thursday. Rice’s home games are Sept. 23 vs. FIU, Oct. 28 vs. Louisiana Tech, Nov. 11 vs. Southern Mississippi and Nov. 25 vs. North Texas.
In addition, the Owls will host Army on Oct. 7. Rice is technically still scheduled to host Stanford on Sept. 2, but the game could be moved up a week and played in Australia. The NCAA needs to approve such a move. A decision is expected in about a week, a Rice Athletics official said.
Rice’s road slate begins at UTEP on Sept. 9 and continues out of conference at Houston on Sept. 16 and at Pittsburgh on Sept. 30. Other C-USA road games include Oct. 21 at UTSA, Nov. 4 at UAB and Nov. 18 at Old Dominion. It will be the first time Rice has ever played a football game in the state of Virginia.
With UAB reinstating football and moving back into the C-USA West, each conference division has seven teams. Thus each team now has only two crossover games. Rice drew a mixed bag, with an ODU team that went 10-3 and an FIU team that was up-and-down at 4-8.
Rice gets the defending C-USA West winner, La Tech, at home, as well as Southern Miss, which is coming off a New Orleans Bowl win. In sort of scheduling quirk, Rice hosts North Texas for a second consecutive year. This was due to the unbalanced schedule C-USA was forced into while UAB was MIA.
Overall, the Owls face nine teams that went to bowl games last season. Rice went 0-6 against bowl teams Stanford, Army, UTSA, La Tech, Southern Miss and UNT. All six are back on the schedule. In fact, the only team Rice beat in 2016 that shows up again in 2017 is UTEP.
While there’s opportunities for wins, the schedule is less than ideal for a 3-9 team looking for a fairly quick turnaround.
Sept. 2 – vs. Stanford (tentative*)
Sept. 9 – at UTEP
Sept. 16 – at Houston
Sept. 23 – vs. FIU
Sept. 30 – at Pitt
Oct. 7 – vs. Army
Oct. 21 – at UTSA
Oct. 28 – vs. Louisiana Tech
Nov. 4 – at UAB
Nov. 11 – vs. Southern Mississippi
Nov. 18 – at Old Dominion
Nov. 25 – vs. North Texas
*NCAA expected to make decision soon about moving Stanford game to Australia.