Rice’s 2013 football conference opponents were announced today and will include homes games with new conference foes Louisiana Tech and Florida Atlantic.
Conference USA athletic directors decided at its winter meetings how to divide the 14 football teams competing in the conference this fall. Rice will play in the Western Division along with holdovers Tulsa, UTEP and Tulane. Newcomers in the west are Louisiana Tech, UTSA and North Texas.
The Eastern Division will consist of East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and UAB.
Rice will play all six West teams, plus a home game with Florida Atlantic and a road tilt at UAB.
“The new alignment in the conference for football presents a fresh challenge and we look forward to carrying the momentum from our Armed Force Bowl championship into our pursuit for the C-USA title in 2013,” Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said in a news release.
Rice will host Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, Tulane and UTEP. While La Tech won nine games last year (including a non-conference win over Rice), the three other squads each won less than four games.
The Owls host Kansas in a 2013 non-conference game and will again play Houston at Reliant Stadium, though the Bayou Bucket is now a non-conference game.
Besides UAB, other road games are North Texas, Tulsa and UTSA. Tulsa is the only conference foe on the schedule that made a bowl game last year.
During the winter meetings, FAU and Middle Tennessee were officially welcomed as members of Conference USA beginning in 2013. Both teams will exit the Sun Belt Conference one year earlier than initially announced and will be eligible to compete in all C-USA sports. Conference USA will have 14 members compete in football and 16 members for other sports during the 2013-14 athletic season.
The Old Dominion football team is slated to join C-USA in 2014. The athletics directors determined Old Dominion would be eligible for an East Division title and the opportunity to compete in the 2014 C-USA Football Championship. However, they would not be eligible for a bowl berth until 2015.
Tulane and East Carolina will leave Conference USA at the conclusion of the season for the Big East. Tulsa is also rumored to leave for the Big East.
“The commissioner has worked very hard within the current culture of change that dominates college athletics at this time,” Greenspan said. “We will continue our efforts as well to manage these very fluid times in order to enhance the standard of excellence that is the expectation of everyone at Rice.”
Here is the conference schedule team-by-team:
HOME - FAU, Southern Miss, Tulsa, UAB
AWAY - at FIU, at Marshall, at Middle Tennessee, at Tulane
HOME - FIU, Marshall Middle Tennessee, Tulane
AWAY - at East Carolina, at Rice, at Southern Miss, at UAB
HOME - East Carolina, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, UAB
AWAY - at FAU, at Middle Tennessee, at Southern Miss, at UTEP
HOME - North Texas, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa
AWAY - at FIU, at Rice, at UTEP, at UTSA
HOME - East Carolina, Southern Miss, UAB, UTSA
AWAY - at FAU, at FIU, at Middle Tennessee, at Tulsa
HOME - East Carolina, FIU, Marshall, UTEP
AWAY - at FAU, at North Texas, at Southern Miss, at UAB
HOME - Middle Tennessee, Rice, UTEP, UTSA
AWAY - at Louisiana Tech, at Southern Miss, at Tulane, at Tulsa
HOME - FAU, Louisiana Tech, Tulane, UTEP
AWAY - at North Texas, at Tulsa, at UAB, at UTSA
HOME - FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas
AWAY - at East Carolina, at Louisiana Tech, at Marshall, at UAB
HOME - East Carolina, North Texas, Tulsa, UTEP
AWAY - at FAU, at Louisiana Tech, at Rice, at UTSA
HOME - Marshall, North Texas, Rice, UTSA
AWAY - at East Carolina, at Louisiana Tech, at Tulane, at UTEP
HOME - FAU, Middle Tennessee, Rice, Southern Miss
AWAY - at East Carolina, at FIU, at Marshall, at UTSA
HOME - FIU, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, UTSA
AWAY - at Middle Tennessee, at North Texas, at Rice, at Tulane
HOME - Louisiana Tech, Rice, Tulane, UAB
AWAY - at Marshall, at North Texas, at Tulsa, at UTEP