The Owls needed to beat Houston and have Marshall also beat Tulsa. The Owls took care of business but The Herd fell to Tulsa 38-35.
Rice and Tulsa both finished conference play at 7-1, but Tulsa won the head-to-head match-up earlier this year and therefore will represent the West.
Saturday's win over Houston was a spectacular day in so many ways for the Rice Owls...
- The win was the 9th of the season for the Owls. The Owls haven't won 9 games since 1953.
- By finishing the regular season 9-3, the Owls have the distinction of transforming a 3-9 season in 2007 to 9-3 in 2008, and could get their 10th win in a bowl game.
- Saturday marked the final time almost 20 Owls would take the field at Rice Stadium. Prolific Owls Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard went out in style.
- Brian Raines sparked the team today with a stirring return to action. His career was believed to be over after he suffered a broken arm against Southern Miss several games ago. However he returned today with the arm heavily padded and wrapped and actually started his final game at Rice Stadium. Raines truly is an "Iron Owl".
By winning today at Rice Stadium, the Owls went undefeated in 6 games at home for the season. They last accomplished that feat in the 1949 season.
James Casey scored 4 touchdowns today, and threw for a 5th - he scored on a 1 yard touchdown run, then caught TDs of 2, 23, and 9 yards. He hit Taylor Wardlow int he back of the end zone for a 3 yard touchdown. Casey finished the day with 12 catches for 172 yards.
Taylor Wardlow easily had his biggest game of the season - catching touchdown passes of 53 and 3 yards.
C.J. Ugokwe rushed for 121 yards today on 18 carries. Ugokwe had a long run of 47 yards.
Kyle Martens averaged 41.6 yards on 5 punts today. The second game in a row where Martens has averaged over 40 yards per punt.
Andrew Sendejo led Rice tacklers with 13 today, followed closely by Travis Bradshaw with 12. Bradshaw had 9 solo tackles. Sendejo recovered a fumbled that Bradshaw forced.
Despite being constantly held all day, Cheta Ozougwu and Scott Solomon both registered sacks. Solomon had 6 tackles today, 2 for a loss. He also batted down a pass.
Brian Raines recorded the first interception of his career today - with a heavily taped arm and hand. He returned the pick 24 uards to set up an Owl touchdown.