In recent years, Notre Dame has added some unfamiliar opponents to its football schedule. Western Michigan, USF and Temple all have met the Irish for the first time during Brian Kelly’s tenure. 2014 will feature only one first-time opponent (Louisville), but the Irish’s season opener against Rice will be just the fifth meeting between the two academically prestigious universities.
The Owls surprised many by winning a watered-down Conference USA title last season dropping just one league game and hammering Marshall 41-24 in the Conference USA Championship Game. A third-year starting quarterback and a senior-laden defense propelled the Owls to their second double-digit win season in six years.
Losses are significant for the 2014 Owls, but Conference USA bids farewell to three of its better programs (East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa) while adding Western Kentucky from the Sun Belt and Old Dominion from the FCS. Can a school with fewer than 4,000 students repeat as conference champions?
Rice begins spring practice March 11 and will hold its spring game April 11. Let’s take an early look at the 2014 Owls.
For previous Notre Dame opponent previews, click on the links below: