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The Rice Owls football team represents Rice University in NCAA Division I college football. The Owls have competed in Conference USA's Western Division since 2005. Rice Stadium, built in 1950, hosts the Owls' home football games.

History

1954 Cotton Bowl Classic

The Owls played in the eighteenth Cotton Bowl Classic against the Crimson Tide of Alabama. The game featured one of the most famous plays in college football history[2] when Rice's Dickey Moegle (later Maegle) burst free on a sweep play, and on his way down the sideline, was tackled by Tommy Lewis, who had come off the Alabama sideline without his helmet to tackle Moegle. Referee Cliff Shaw saw Lewis come off the bench and gave the Owls the 95 yard touchdown. Rice would win the game 28-6, with the only Crimson Tide score coming from Lewis. The yardage added to Moegle's 265 yards rushing, a Cotton Bowl Classic record that would stand until Tony Temple's effort in 2008. This would be the Owls' last bowl win until the 2008 Texas Bowl, a win which also secured the Owls their first 10-win season since 1949.[3]

Kennedy Speech

Kennedy at Rice University - GPN-2000-001618

Rice Stadium also hosted a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1962. In it, he used the Rice football team to challenge America to send a man to the moon.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.[4]

Conference affiliations

Head coaches

Name Seasons Overall Overall % Bowls Bowls %
David Bailiff 2007–2017 57–78 42.2% 3–1 75.0%
Todd Graham 2006 7–6 53.8% 0–1 0.0%
Ken Hatfield 1994–2005 55–78–1 41.0% -- --
Fred Goldsmith 1989-93 23–31–1 42.7% -- --
Jerry Berndt 1986-88 6–27–0 18.2% -- --
Watson Brown 1984-85 4–18–0 18.2% -- --
Ray Alborn 1978-83 13–53–0 19.7% -- --
Homer Rice 1976-77 4–18–0 18.2% -- --
Al Conover 1972-75 14–28–2 34.1% -- --
Bill Peterson 1971 3–7–1 31.8% -- --
Bo Hagan 1967-70 12–27–1 31.3% -- --
Jess Neely 1940-66 144–124–10 53.6% 3–3–0 50.0%
Jimmy Kitts 1934-39 33–29–4 53.0% 1–0–0 100.0%
Jack Meagher 1929-33 26–26–0 50.0% -- --
Claude Rothgeb 1928 2–7–0 22.2% -- --
John Heisman 1924-27 14–18–3 44.3% -- --
John Anderson 1918 1–5–1 21.4% -- --
Phillip Arbuckle 1912-17,'19-23 51–25–8 65.5% -- --

Conference championships

Rice has won seven conference championships, four outright and three shared.

Year Conference Coach Overall record Conference record
1934 Southwest Conference Jimmy Kitts 9–1–1 5–1
1937 Southwest Conference Jimmy Kitts 6–3–2 4–1–1
1946 Southwest Conference Jess Neely 9–2 5–1
1949 Southwest Conference Jess Neely 10–1 6–0
1953 Southwest Conference Jess Neely 9–2 5–1
1957 Southwest Conference Jess Neely 7–4 5–1
1994 Southwest Conference Ken Hatfield 5–6 4–3
2013 Conference USA David Bailiff 10–4 7–1

† indicates a shared conference title.

Bowl games

Rice has participated in twelve bowl games, garnering a record of 7–5.

Year Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1938 Jimmy Kitts Cotton Bowl Classic Colorado W 28–14
1947 Jess Neely Orange Bowl Tennessee W 8–0
1950 Jess Neely Cotton Bowl Classic North Carolina W 27–13
1954 Jess Neely Cotton Bowl Classic Alabama W 28–6
1958 Jess Neely Cotton Bowl Classic Navy L 7–20
1961 Jess Neely Sugar Bowl Ole Miss L 6–14
1961 Jess Neely Bluebonnet Bowl Kansas L 7–33
2006 Todd Graham New Orleans Bowl Troy L 17–41
2008 David Bailiff Texas Bowl Western Michigan W 38–14
2012 David Bailiff Armed Forces Bowl Air Force W 33–14
2013 David Bailiff Liberty Bowl Mississippi State L 7–44
2014 David Bailiff Hawaii Bowl Fresno State W 30–6

Stadium

Rice Stadium was built in 1950, and has been the home of Owls football ever since. It hosted the NFL Super Bowl in January 1974. It replaced the old Rice Field (now Rice Track/Soccer Stadium) to increase seating. Total seating capacity in the current stadium was reduced from 70,000 to 47,000 before the 2006 season. The endzone seating benches were removed and covered with tarps, and all of the wooden bleachers were replaced with new, metal seating benches in 2006, as well. The stadium is also currently undergoing further renovations.

All-time record vs. CUSA teams

Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current CUSA opponents:

Opponent Won Lost Percentage Streak First Last
Charlotte 2 0 1.000 Won 2 2015 2016
Florida Atlantic 2 1 .667 Lost 1 2013 2016
FIU 1 1 .500 Lost 1 2014 2017
Louisiana Tech 4 7 .364 Lost 4 1965 2017
Marshall 2 4 .333 Lost 1 2007 2014
Middle Tennessee 0 0 - - -
North Texas 4 3 .571 Lost 1 1988 2016
Old Dominion 0 2 .000 Lost 2 2014 2017
Southern Miss 4 4 .500 Lost 3 2007 2017
UAB 3 3 .500 Lost 1 2005 2017
UTEP 14 7 .667 Won 2 1996 2017
UTSA 3 3 .500 Lost 3 2012 2017
Western Kentucky 0 2 .000 Lost 2 2015 2016
Totals 39 37 .513

Rivalries

SMU

Rice and SMU were members of the same conference from 1918 through 2012, and have played each other 90 times as of 2012 with SMU leading the series 48-41-1. The rivalry is because Rice and SMU were two of four private schools in the Southwest Conference (Baylor and TCU were the others). Rice and SMU were also the two smallest schools in the conference, were located in the two largest cities of any teams in the conference (Houston and Dallas, respectively), and have historically been considered the two best private universities in Texas.

Rice-SMU: All-Time Records
Games played First meeting Last meeting RICE win RICE loss Ties Win %
90 November 17, 1916 (Won 146–3) November 17, 2012 (Won 36–14) [1] 41 48 1 45.5%

Houston

Rice participates in a crosstown rivalry with Houston. UH and Rice play annually for the Bayou Bucket, a weathered bucket found by former Rice guard Fred Curry at an antique shop. Curry had it designed into a trophy for $310. The two universities are separated by five miles in Houston. The Cougars lead the series 29-11.The Cougars' 2013 move from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference has jeopardized the status of the series though, it is scheduled to resume in 2017 .

Houston-Rice: All-Time Records
Games played First meeting Last meeting RICE win RICE loss Ties Win %
40 September 11, 1971 (lost 21–23) September 21, 2013 (lost 26–31) [2] 11 29 0 27.5%
Rice and Texas play in 2006.

Texas

Rice and Texas have maintained a largely one-sided rivalry beginning in the early days of the Southwest Conference. Texas' 28 consecutive victories from 1966–1993 represents the sixth longest single-opponent winning streak in college football history. In 1994, in a nationally televised ESPN game, Rice scored a major upset win over Texas, but since then Texas has resumed series dominance. Despite the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, Texas and Rice still play on a "near annual" basis, allowing the Longhorns to keep a high profile in the state's largest city and the fourth largest city in the United States. Texas is a public university that enrolls 50,201 total students (5th largest in the US as of 2007) and over 37,000 undergraduates. Rice is a private university and enrolls 3,926 undergraduates.

Texas-Rice: All-Time Records
Games played First meeting Last meeting Rice win Rice loss Ties Win %
94 October 17, 1914 (lost 0–41) September 12, 2015 (lost 42–28) 21 72 1 18.8%

Baylor

Rice and Baylor have a long-standing rivalry dating back to each of these foes days in the Southwest Conference. They are no longer in the same conference but have scheduled each other on and off since 1997 with Baylor winning the latest matchup; the Baylor Bears also hold the all-time record in the rivalry at 41-30-2 with the next matchup scheduled for 2019 at Rice.

Texas A&M

The Rice Owls have been longtime rivals with the Texas A&M Aggies since each other's days in the Southwest Conference. Since they are no longer in the same conference they still occasionally schedule each other with the next matchup being scheduled for 2019 at Rice in NRG Stadium. Texas A&M holds the all-time record in the rivalry at 52-27 with the latest contest being played in 2014 with an Aggie victory.

Notable players

College Football Hall of Fame

Name Position Years Inducted Notes
Buddy Dial End 1956–1958 1993 was his team’s co-captain, Most Valuable Player, and was consensus All-America
John Heisman Coach 1892–1927 1954 Inducted for his career as a coach at Oberlin, Akron, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson, Rice
Weldon Humble Guard 1941–1943, 1946 1961 He was a consensus All- America choice. Like most athletes of his time, Weldon was required to suspend his career for military service during World War II.
Dick Maegle Halfback 1952–1954 1979 He was consensus All-America and academic All-America in 1954
Jess Neely Coach 1924–1966 1971 Inducted for his career as a coach at Rhodes, Clemson, Rice
Bill Wallace Halfback 1932, 1934–1935 1978 Wallace was Rice's initial first team All-America selection
James "Froggy" Williams End 1946–1949 1965 a consensus All-American and was also selected to the Cotton Bowl’s All-Decade team for the 1950s
Tommy Kramer Quarterback 1972–1976 2012 Senior Bowl MVP and 1976 George Martin Award winner

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Rice All-Americans

Name Position All-America
Bill Wallace B 1934
H.J. Nichols G 1944
Weldon Humble G 1946
Froggy Williams E 1949
Joe Watson C 1949
Bill Howton E 1951
John Hudson T 1953
Kosse Johnson B 1953
Dicky Maegle HB 1954
King Hill QB 1957
Buddy Dial E 1958
Malcolm Walker C 1964
Tommy Kramer QB 1976
Steve Kidd P 1985
Kenny Major TE 1986
Trevor Cobb HB 1991, 1992
Charles Torello OG 1997
Jarett Dillard WR 2006, 2008
Kyle Martens P 2010

Former Rice players currently in the NFL

Name Position Draft Round (Overall) Current Team Years in the NFL
Bryce Callahan CB UD Bears 2
Phillip Gaines CB 3 (87) Chiefs 3
Vance McDonald TE 2 (55) Steelers 4
Andrew Sendejo S UD Vikings 6
Jordan Taylor WR UD Broncos 2
Luke Willson TE 5th (158) Seahawks 4
Chris Boswell K UD Steelers 2
Christian Covington DE 6 (216) Texans 2

Other former players

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of June 29, 2017.[5]

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
vs Houston vs Wake Forest at Houston at Oklahoma State at USC at Texas at LSU Northwestern
at Hawaii vs Texas
(NRG Stadium)
vs Army vs Houston at Boise State vs Boise State
at Wake Forest at Army vs LSU (NRG Stadium) at Texas at Northwestern
at LSU vs Baylor

References

  1. ^ Color Palette (PDF). Rice Athletics Official Brand Book. Rice Owls. April 11, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  2. ^ Dickey Moegle in the 1954 Cotton Bowl Classic. Article. Retrieved on December 29, 2008.
  3. ^ Associated Press (2008-12-30). "Rice rolls Western Michigan for first bowl win since '54". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  4. ^ http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm
  5. ^ "Rice Owls Football Schedules and Future Schedules". Retrieved June 29, 2017.