Mike Bloomgren gets to proves his metal in his first season at Rice. The Owls play eight 2017 bowl teams in 2018. The nonconference schedule has three bowl squads in four games and includes Wake Forest, Houston, and a trip to LSU.
Rice somehow got lumped into the SEC's SoCon week as the Owl's travel to Death Valley in mid-November.
Aside from the regulars in CUSA West, Rice's crossover games are FIU and Old Dominion. FIU went 8-5 in Butch Davis' first year in charge. The Panthers should be a handful, especially on the road. Old Dominion at home looks like the rare winnable game on the schedule.
Rice has a brutal six-game stretch in the middle of the season with Southern Miss, Wake Forest, UTSA, UAB, FIU, and North Texas, but then again when you're coming off a 1-11 record it's all brutal.