The Owls finished the 2014 Season with a commendable Won-Loss record of 8-5. The team’s record in conference play was 5-3. It enabled this squad to end the year in second place and earn an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl where it defeated Fresno State University.
Expectations for this “veteran” squad are high in 2015. Coach Bailiff has his eyes on first place because he believes that divisional honors would help the Owls earn an invitation to a more important bowl game. It could happen.
Rice has a twelve game schedule in the upcoming season. There will be six home games and six games that will take place on “enemy gridirons.” The home schedule includes visits from such conference foes as a tough Louisiana Tech team on October 30th, a squad from Southern Mississippi on 11/14 and from Charlotte, a team that plays in Conference USA’s Eastern Division.
The Owls will also play host to a number of out-of-conference opponents, including Western Kentucky on October 3rd and the Cadets of West Point (that’s Army, of course) on October 24th.
There is one nationally-ranked team on Rice’s away-from-home schedule. The Owls will travel to Texas to do battle on September 26th with the fourth-ranked Baylor Bears. That will not be an easy game to win.
The same can probably be said about games that will be played on the home fields of the University of Texas on September 12th, the University of North Texas on September 14th, conference foe Florida Atlantic on October 10th and divisional foe UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso) on November 16th.
The Owls have enough returning “veteran” players to be competitive in all of the games listed on their 2015 schedule. The question for this team centers around whether its skill position performers can help Rice’s Owls to better its Won-Loss Record of a year ago so that it can gain national recognition, respect within the conference, first place in its division and an invitation to a bowl game that gets television coverage.
There is not a simple, single answer. In fact, the Owls can achieve much of what they want in 2015 if, like all other football teams, the attrition that occurs through injury doesn’t rob this squad of key players.
Of course, every player that wears the Rice uniform, star or not, needs to perform at the highest possible level for this team to “step up to the next level.”
It can happen, but it will take some good luck along with great performances.
Courtesy of Fbschedules.com