by Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) - David Bailiff's Rice Owls will open their 2016 season on the road in Bowling Green, Kentucky on September 3 to face the defending Conference USA Champion Western Kentucky, kicking off a slate of 12 games which was announced by C-USA on Thursday.
This will mark the first time since 2009 that Rice has kicked off a season with a conference game on the road and just the fourth time in 11 years of C-USA action the Owls have jumped into conference action to open a year.
For the second consecutive year, the Owls will split the 12-game regular season slate evenly with six games at home and on the road. After the trip to WKU and a road game the following week at Army, Rice will open the 2016 home schedule when it welcomes Big XII power Baylor to Rice Stadium on September 17.
The following week, North Texas will provide the opposition for the Owls conference home opener.
In addition to UNT, the Owls will host conference foes UTSA (October 15), Florida Atlantic (November 5) and UTEP (November 19) in addition to a non-conference home game with Prairie View (October 22).
Rice's remaining road trips will be to Southern Miss (Oct. 1) and to Louisiana Tech (October 29) before closing out the season with a road game at Stanford on November 26.
This year's schedule features three teams who were ranked in the final 2015 Associated Press poll: Stanford (3rd), Baylor (13th), Western Kentucky (24th) and five 2015 bowl teams (Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Stanford and WKU).
With the release of the 2016 schedule, the Owls will begin the renewal campaign for football season tickets. All season ticket holders will be contacted about several exciting new offerings for the upcoming campaign as Rice celebrates the opening of the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center in the north end zone of Rice Stadium.
The 2016 Conference USA alignment will feature seven teams in the East Division and six teams in the West Division. Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and WKU comprise the East Division, while Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UTEP and UTSA make up the West Division.
Each school in the West Division will play every team in its division once for five games, while playing three cross-over opponents from the opposite division. Three schools in the East Division will play every team in its division once for six games, while playing two cross-over opponents from the opposite division. Four schools in the East Division will play five opponents in its division once for five games, while playing three cross-over opponents from the opposite division. The cross-division opponents, as well as the East Division non-plays are the same as last season, with the sites of the games being reversed. The 2016 schedule has 13 playing weeks, which provides for one open date for each team.
The 2016 schedule complies with C-USA scheduling policies as approved by the Board of Directors. In addition, the schedule provides the following:
- All teams start their Conference schedule with two games of one at-home and one away; and all teams finish their Conference schedule with two games of one at-home and one away;
- Nearly all teams' have two home games and two away games in the first half of the Conference schedule as well as the second half of the Conference schedule; and
- All primary and most secondary special date requests were accommodated.
A schedule of televised games will be released at a later date. Conference USA's 12th annual Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West Divisions, is scheduled for Saturday, December 3.
Please note that all games are subject to date changes.
|Sept. 3||Western Kentucky||Bowling Green, KY||TBA|
|Sept. 10||Army||West Point, NY||TBA|
|Sept. 17||Baylor||Rice Stadium||TBA|
|Sept. 24||North Texas||Rice Stadium||TBA|
|Oct. 1||Southern Miss||Hattiesburg, MS||TBA|
|Oct. 15||UTSA||Rice Stadium||TBA|
|Oct. 22||Prairie View A&M||Rice Stadium||TBA|
|Oct. 29||Louisiana Tech||Ruston, LA||TBA|
|Nov. 5||Florida Atlantic||Rice Stadium||TBA|
|Nov. 12||Charlotte||Charlotte, NC||TBA|
|Nov. 19||UTEP||Rice Stadium||TBA|
|Nov. 26||Stanford||Stanford, CA||TBA|