By Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
The Rice Owls are predicted to finish third in Conference USA's West Division in a preseason vote conducted by a panel of media members that cover C-USA football.
2015 West champ Southern Miss is tabbed to repeat while Middle Tennessee was the choice to dethrone 2015 conference champion Western Kentucky in the East.
Southern Miss was followed by Louisiana Tech, Rice, UTEP, UTSA and North Texas in the voting. MTSU was followed by WKU, Marshall, Florida Atlantic, FAU, Old Dominion and Charlotte. In addition to facing each school in its own division, Rice will face WKU, FAU and Charlotte from the East in 2016, including the 2016 season and C-USA opener at Western Kentucky on September 1.
Rice head coach David Bailiff will open his 10th training camp at Rice on August 4 as the Owls open their new Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center. The Owls return 16 starters and 52 lettermen off last year's squad which finished 5-7 overall and 3-5 in league action.