Sometimes it’s too hard to remain apart for long.
Although Rice and Southern Miss reside in separate conferences for the first time since 2004, they still found a way to play each other.
The old C-USA rivals will battle in the 2022 LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, AL on Saturday, Dec. 17, as first reported by The Action Network breaking news reporter Brett McMurphy.
This will be the ninth consecutive season featuring a matchup between the Owls and the Golden Eagles, which relocated to the Sun Belt this season. The all-time series between the former conference mates is 6-6, so this LendingTree Bowl serves as the ultimate tiebreaker.
Rice (5-7, 3-5 C-USA) is the only 5-7 team claiming bowl eligibility in 2022. There were 82 slots for 80 bowl eligible teams. After New Mexico State received a waiver for defeating two FCS teams in a 6-6 season, the Owls filled the final available vacancy due to having the highest academic progress rating (APR) among 5-7 teams. By locking up the final spot, Rice snaps the C-USA’s longest bowl drought and clinches a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Southern Miss (6-6, 4-4 Sun Belt) locked up bowl eligibility after defeating ULM 20-10 on the final week of the regular season. This snaps a two-year bowl skid for the Golden Eagles. The LendingTree Bowl is familiar territory for the program, as Southern Miss competed in and won the game in 2000 against TCU, and again in 2007 versus Ohio.
This is the first bowl bid for both head coaches in this matchup — Rice’s fifth-year coach Mike Bloomgren and Southern Miss’ second-year coach Will Hall. The Owls secure their most recent bowl victory in the 2014 Hawaii Bowl, while the Golden Eagles’ last postseason win transpired in the 2016 New Orleans Bowl.
The 2022 LendingTree Bowl kicks off at 5:45 p.m. ET on Dec. 17 — the action-packed first Saturday of bowl season. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.