The Rice Owls had an impressive second-half turnaround to rebound from a terrible start and finish last season with their first winning record since 2008.
As they prepare for their 2013 campaign, they're hoping to build on the momentum they gained by reeling off four straight victories to qualify for a bowl. They defeated Air Force 33-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl to end the year 7-6.
Coach David Bailiff says: "We knew we were really talented, we just had to put it all together."
This year the Owls have a veteran team with 19 returning starters led by preseason Conference-USA defensive player of the year defensive back Phillip Gaines.