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Saturday’s Rice vs. UTSA game postponed one day before kickoff

COVID-19 related issues for the Roadrunners take the C-USA West matchup off this Saturday’s schedule.

NCAA Football: Rice at Texas-San Antonio John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s C-USA West showdown between Rice and UTSA has been postponed due to COVID-19 related issues within the UTSA program.

The postponement for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. ET game was made Friday morning. Both universities plan to work with the C-USA in hopes of rescheduling the game.

Rice was informed Thursday night that UTSA had some positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing in the organization before the news became official Friday.

“I’m disappointed because we put in a great week of work and we’re always excited to play those guys,” Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren said. “We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that know players on their team.”

Earlier this week, Rice added two postponed C-USA games from October against Marshall and UAB to its December slate. That leaves the Owls’ only open date for the remainder of the season as the weekend of the C-USA Championship Game, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 19. Some conferences, such as the Big Ten, have scheduled games outside of the conference championship on that weekend. Therefore, a meeting with the Roadrunners appears most feasible if both Rice and UTSA fail to qualify for the conference title.

“That’s going to be a conference decision,” Bloomgren said about potentially rescheduling UTSA. “I think it makes a lot of sense to play everybody on the West as we’re trying to decide a champion. Right now, every team on the West has at least one loss in conference, so if you play everybody, you can actually decide this thing on the field.”

If the game is not rescheduled, it will be the first time UTSA has not played Rice since the Roadrunners joined the FBS in 2012. UTSA leads the all-time series, 5-3, as winners of five consecutive matchups.

A silver lining of the postponement for Rice is that five starters were expected to miss Saturday’s game due to injuries. They’ll have an extra week to recover before the Owls’ third game of the season — a road trip to Louisiana Tech.

“The one constant I’ve asked (the team) for since COVID started is flexibility and adaptability and being able to pivot,” Bloomgren said. “Being able to take this news, be disappointed, and shift all of our focus to the team that has been the most consistent team in our conference the last eight years, and that’s a game with Louisiana Tech.”