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MOBILE – LendingTree Bowl week is officially underway.

Rice and Southern Miss both arrived in the Port City on Tuesday in preparation for the 24th LendingTree Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren is leading the Owls into the post season for the first time since 2014.

“I want to tell you how excited we are to bring our football team to Mobile, Alabama, and to comeand be part of the LendingTree Bowl,” Bloomgren said. “I looked at the schedule and I think there’s a lot of great things for the coaches’ families, a lot of great things for this team.

“It feels great to have our team back in a bowl game for the first time since 2014. It’s the 13th bowl game in Rice history and I couldn’t be

 more proud of our guys for what they pushed through this year. Our path to the post-season was a testament to our players and how hard they work on the field as well as in the classroom. And that’s a big deal at Rice University. “

Southern Miss head coach Will Hall has the Golden Eagles in a bowl for the first time since 2019.

“We’re really glad to be here. I want to thank (LendingTree Bowl President) Jerry (Silverstein) and the LendingTree Bowl for this opportunity,” Hall said. “We’re really excited to be here. It’s been a tough road for us. After taking over this program two years ago, we’re slowly but surely building it back and we’re excited to get Southern Miss back in the post-season again. We played a really tough schedule, battled out six wins. We played 12 games and 11 of them were really, really close. Could have won a few more, could have lost a few more.”

James Barber, Chief of Staff for the City of Mobile, welcomed both teams to town and presented Rice Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard and Southern Miss Athletics Director with keys to the city.

Both head coaches and several players from each team met with the local media and then teams had dinner and “game night” at Fort Whiting Armory.

The two teams played five different game-show events, answering trivia questions and accumulating points along the way. The came down to the final question before Rice took home the win.

Both teams will practice on Wednesday morning before heading the beach in the afternoon.  The teams will tour Fort Gains and visit the Alabama Aquarium.