Head coach Mike Bloomgren has increased his Owls’ win total by one game in each of his full seasons in charge of Rice. His group made a bowl game for the first time in his five-year tenure last year thanks to a high APR score. Heading into year six, it feels like achieving a .500 record is the baseline goal for the program in 2023. A move to the AAC and a tough non-conference schedule won’t make that an easy path.
2022 record: 5-8
2023 record prediction: 6-6
BIGGEST GAME – vs. FAU on Nov. 25
The margins are thin for the Rice Owls. The most likely scenario for bowl eligibility is at six wins, which would be one more than the five that Rice won last season. If those odds come true, a home game in Week 13 over a beatable FAU squad could be the difference between bowling and staying home. And that could be the difference between Bloomgren returning or looking for a new head coach. FAU went 5-7 last year, including a three-point win at home over Rice in October. The game against FAU also brings Tom Herman back to Houston. He was the offensive coordinator for Rice in 2007 and 2008.
TRAP GAME – vs. Texas Southern on Sept. 16
Trap games usually suggest that one team – usually the favorite – will overlook an overmatched opponent. There aren’t many of those on Rice’s schedule. The only game resembling that scenario for the Owls in 2023 is a home game against Texas Southern in Week 3. The issue for the Owls is that the contest follows games against Texas and Houston. Rice figures to be beaten and bruised ahead of facing the Tigers. Texas Southern is also home to quarterback Andrew Body, who can propel his team to enough points to make this one dangerous.
POTENTIAL UPSET – vs. Houston on Sept. 9
A defensive touchdown was the difference between Rice and Houston in last year’s classic. This year, the Owls hope improved quarterback play can spring the upset. They haven’t beaten the Cougars since 2010 and have only won twice in the rivalry since 2004. Cracks in the foundation are beginning to appear for Dana Holgorsen’s Cougars. They play UTSA in Week 1 and could be nursing an 0-1 record heading into the game against Rice.
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