HOUSTON -

It's said to be the best, you have to play the best.

That's certainly what Rice football and head coach David Bailiff are set out to do this season.

Rice opens up against Notre Dame this week in South Bend, Ind.

The Owls are no stranger to playing big-name opponents. The program routinely schedules schools from the nation's power conferences.

"The team is going out there very confident, more confident than I felt when we were going out to (Texas) A&M last year," quarterback Driphus Jackson said. "We have more senior leadership this year.

Returning under center for the Irish, is dual-threat quarterback Everett Golson who sat out last season for academic violations.

"You truly have to respect a quarterback like Golson," Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington said. "Last time he played, he led Notre Dame to the national title."

Owls head coach David Bailiff said he believes his team is prepared for the test.

"They're going to be ready to go," he said. "They're excited when they first saw Notre Dame on the schedule. It's more of an opportunity for us to see what type of football team we're going to be."

Rice kicks off the season against the No. 17-ranked Fighting Irish at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.