Houston (CBS HOUSTON): In their 9 seasons as a member of Conference USA, Rice has never won a conference title. In fact, they’ve never even played in the title game.
All that could change at 2pm Saturday when the Owls (8-3/6-1) host Tulane (7-4/5-2) at Rice Stadium.
The Owls control their own destiny in C-USA’s West Division, and will win the division outright with a victory over the Green Wave Saturday. Winning their division would set them up to play for their first ever C-USA conference title. Marshall hosts East Carolina on Friday to determine the East Division winner.
It will be Senior Day at Rice on Saturday. The team has 23 seniors who will be honored prior to kickoff, and that experience and leadership is something that Owls head Coach David Bailiff knew would lead his program.
“Our seniors (set) goals, they established them last January. It’s great to be playing with those goals still intact.” Bailiff said during his weekly press conference Monday. “(This is a) big game for us.”
It would be Rice’s first outright division championship, and while the team is bowl eligible, a conference title would get them a berth in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, which would easily be the most prestigious of all potential bowl games for the Owls.
Should the Owls win Saturday, the location for the C-USA title game will bet determined by BCS standing. Rice did not play ECU or Marshall this season.
The Owls have won 7 straight games at Rice Stadium, and 5 straight on Senior Day.
Rice has a 96% graduation rate for its football athletes, second best nationally among FBS programs.
RB Charles Ross is 34 yards shy of becoming Rice’s second all-time leading rusher. He currently has 2,472 yards career. Quinton Smith is currently second with 2,505.
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” with Nate Griffin, Sundays 2-5p on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1