Rice Owls

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Vance McDonald #88 of the Rice Owls looks for room to run as Colton Valencia #20 of the Houston Cougars defends at Reliant Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Houston, Rice extend Bayou Bucket series

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Houston and Rice are extending their Bayou Bucket rivalry into the next decade. The clubs announced on Monday agreements for games on Sept. 5, 2020 at Houston and at Rice on Sept. 11, 2021.

The crosstown foes have not met since 2013 and won’t again until 2017. Houston holds a 29-11 advantage in the series that dates back to 1971. The Cougars have won each of the last three meetings.

Additionally, Houston announced a four-game series with UTSA to be played in stages. The first game will take place Sept. 2, 2017, in San Antonio, and the other three will follow from 2022-24.

Houston and UTSA have split their only two previous meetings.

The addition of the UTSA game completes the Coogs’ 2017 non-conference schedule. Houston opens at UTSA and visits Arizona a week later, then hosts a two-game home stand against Rice and Texas Tech.

Rice replaces A&M on its 2019 schedule with… Texas

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  Darik Dillard #1 of the Rice Owls breaks free against the Texas Longhorns during the second quarter on September 12, 2015 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
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Texas and Texas A&M can’t seem to get together to renew their rivalry on the football field, but the two programs still find their scheduling paths crossing every now and again.

Texas and Rice announced in separate press releases Thursday afternoon that the two schools have reached an agreement on a new three-game series that will renew the in-state rivalry yet again.  The first game of that series will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston on an undetermined date in 2019. The final two games will be played in Austin during the 2021 and 2023 seasons.

The 2019 game on Rice’s end will replace a previously-scheduled matchup with A&M.  According to Rice, A&M requested a release from that game because of a scheduling conflict.

The Longhorns and Owls have met 94 times previously, the most recent coming just this past season.  Those 94 games represent the most Rice has ever played against a single opponent.

UT owns a 72-21-1 edge in the all-time series.  The Owls only win in the series since 1965 came in October of 1994.

LaTech announces date with LSU as Tigers fill out 2018 slate

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 14:  Dustin Mitchell #43 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs is tackled by Jacob Cutrera #54 and Kelvin Sheppard #11 of the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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If you’re into the in-state football thing, mark your 2018 calendars accordingly.

Louisiana Tech announced Thursday afternoon that it has scheduled a 2018 game against LSU in Death Valley.  That contest is scheduled for Oct. 20 that year.

This matchup will mark the 20th all-time meeting between the two football programs, with the last coming in 2009.  While the Tigers are 18-1 all-time against the Bulldogs, the school made sure to note in their release that “Tech remains the only public school in Louisiana to have defeated LSU in football.”

“We want to continue to schedule teams from our state when possible, which allows resources to remain in the state and the fans in Louisiana to experience the best venue in the country, Tiger Stadium,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement.

In a separate release, LSU confirmed the addition of 2018 games against Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 8) and Rice (Nov. 17). Along with the previously announced game against Miami of Florida (Sept. 1 in the Cowboys Classic opener), LSU’s 2018 non-conference schedule is now complete.

Mountain West Conference says no expansion on the horizon

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The Mountian West Conference had been at the center of various conference realignment or expansion rumors over the past week, ranging from the possible return of BYU to potential additions of Rice and/or UTEP. As conference leaders and administrators gathered this weekend to discuss those options and more for football and other sports, it was decided the Mountain West Conference will not seek any adjustments to the conference’s current membership.

“The entire membership expressed great support for the continued development of the Conference,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson in a released statement Monday.  “There is genuine excitement about the growth which has transpired in the less than three years under the present alignment.”

So, for now, the book is closed on possible expansion or realignment with the Mountain Wets Conference, however the conference did state it will continue to monitor the landscape moving forward, so the door for potential changes is still left open by a crack. Maybe that is good news for fans of programs like BYU, Rice or UTEP.

Thompson sparked the conversation last week by suggesting the conference would be leaving a light on for BYU. The football independent program is entering the crosshairs of some important changes with the program with a head coaching change and still evaluating the pros and cons of life as an independent now five years into the non-conference life and preparing for a sixth. Another report suggested the MWC might be discussing inviting Rice and UTEP to the conference to establish a presence in the state of Texas. UTEP has been in communication with the MWC for a few years according to past reports due to geographical struggles with competing in Conference USA.

At this point, the only thing that might cause the MWC to change its official stance is if BYU comes calling about getting back together in the future as a conference member. Odds are the MWC would find a way to welcome BYU back to the fold, but would that require the conference to add one more member to keep the numbers even? If so, then Idaho, New Mexico State, UTEP and Rice may have to start making some sales pitches to the conference.

Is Mountain West Conference looking for expansion real estate in Texas?

The Associated Press
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While we may not be seeing any seismic shifts on the conference realignment landscape any time soon now that the Big 12 learned it can get a team in the College Football Playoff with just 10 members, the Mountain West Conference is a bit of a different story. After commissioner Craig Thompson addressed the idea of leaving a light on for BYU, the question has shifted to who would join BYU to keep balance in the conference. Whether or not BYU is part of the equation, two schools worth keeping an eye on are Rice and UTEP.

A report published by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com added a spark to the conversation surrounding Rice and UTEP with the Mountain West Conference scheduled for some meetings this weekend between athletic directors and other leaders. Per Dodd, there is a thought Rice would be the more desirable option base don Rice’s academic standing, but UTEP has been touching base with the MWC for a few years now as they sit isolated from the majority of Conference USA’s membership. UTEP also has some history with a majority of the members of the MWC dating back to the old WAC line-up.

The MWC currently has 12 football members, and Conference USA has 13, including Rice and UTEP. If the Mountain West were to add BYU, plucking either Rice or UTEP from Conference USA would keep some form of balance and perhaps keep Conference USA from feeling an urge to take on another member. Conference USA has already managed to keep things rolling by adding some programs with more of a long-term plan for growth. Losing Rice or UTEP would likely result in Conference USA sliding one member from the East Division into thew West Division to balance out the division line-up, perhaps Middle Tennessee or Western Kentucky (or go the Big 12 route and slide Marshall into the Texas-heavy West Division). Keep in mind, Conference USA is slated to welcome back UAB starting in 2017.

Adding Rice or UTEP would help get the MWC into the state of Texas, which is a state ripe of high school football talent. The conference lost its presence in the state when TCU left for the Big East Big 12. From a marketing perspective, if the Mountain West Conference could lure Rice to the conference, it would help gain some viewership in the Houston TV market. Competing head-to-head with the Big 12 and SEC in Houston may still be a mighty uphill challenge, but in a world where Rutgers was a top target for the Big Ten, the MWC taking aim on Rice makes plenty of sense. Either way, just setting foot in Texas is something the MWC should find appealing.

There is no timeline for any possible expansion at this time though. There may not even be any movement on the push to expand this weekend, but it should be expected to be a discussion topic that leads to further evaluation of the landscape for the conference and beyond as it prepares for every possible scenario involving BYU or not. Expansion for the sake of expansion is not a wise move.