Last season Rice opened the season in Australia, then, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, spent the next week in Fort Worth before flying out to El Paso then finally coming back home to Houston. If you want to blame those frequent flyer miles for the 1-11 disaster, that's fine, but they'll put in their fair share of traveling this year as well. Let's look at their out of conference slate.
vs. Prairie View, August 25
Prairie View's a better opener than Stanford, by a long shot. Rice will ease into the Mike Bloomgren era with a win over the Panthers. We shudder to think of the heat and humidity at Rice Stadium for this one. Start hydrating now.
vs. Houston, September 1
The Bayou Bucket comes back to Rice Village with Houston coming to town. The Cougars are primed for a run at the AAC with a gifted quarterback in D'Eriq King and a wrecking ball in Ed Oliver. Last year the Cougars pummeled the Owls, mainly in one half. Rice helped by turning the ball over repeatedly inside their own 30. Can't do that this year.
at Hawaii, September 8
Trips to Hawaii are always tricky. The distance itself is daunting, adjusting to body clock issues, etc., and Hawaii is hard to prepare for under one of the most interesting men in the world, head coach Nick Rolovich. The road trip is rough, prepping for Rolovich and the run and shoot makes the Warriors very difficult. Then you've got to get on a plane, fly 3,800 miles back home, and then off to Hattiesburg for the start of conference play.
at Wake Forest, September 29
After a trip to Southern Miss, the Owls travel over 1,100 east to Winston Salem for their third straight road game, this one against the Demon Deacons. Dave Clawson's 2017 team won eight games including a bowl win over Texas A&M. Clawson's program has turned a corner, winning fifteen games in two seasons and appearing in two bowl games.
If Rice could go 2-2 out of conference, they'd take it. That second win is difficult to find. Hawaii is the most logical choice, but that game is far from a given. Three straight road trips leading into the meat of the conference schedule isn't ideal. This feels like a 1-3 out of conference record. Rice is due for some less strenuous traveling, but it won't come until after 2018.