Football to face Southern Miss in LendingTree Bowl
It might not have been how they planned it, but Rice football is going to a bowl game. The Owls will take on the University of Southern Mississippi in the LendingTree Bowl, in Mobile, Alabama on Dec. 17. After finishing the season 5-7, one win shy of the mark needed to secure eligibility, Rice got an invite anyway when not enough teams reached six wins to fill every bowl game. The Owls topped all five-win teams in the tiebreaker, an academic performance metric called Academic Progress Rate.
According to head coach Mike Bloomgren, the Owls are excited to play in the postseason for the first time in eight years.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to take this team to Mobile and play Southern Miss.,” Bloomgren said. “It's especially meaningful since Rice has not been bowling since 2014.”
They will face a familiar opponent in the Golden Eagles, a former Conference USA rival whom they played annually until Southern Miss moved to the Sun Belt Conference at the start of this season. The Golden Eagles are in their second season under head coach Will Hall, who took over after a tumultuous 2020 season saw the team cycle through three head coaches and finish 3-7. After a 3-9 record in his first season, Hall coached the team to a 6-6 record this year, including an early-season win against a Tulane University team that’s currently ranked No. 16 in the nation.
The game will be played at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. Kickoff is at 4:45 p.m. CST, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
According to Bloomgren, he is happy that this year’s team will get one more chance to play together.
“When we practiced last week, I could tell how much this game means to our team,” Bloomgren said. “Our seniors have a chance to represent Rice one more time and earn the right to be called bowl champions and our underclassmen can take another step in the building of this program.”
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