Rice: Facts and Factors

In its season opener Thursday, UCLA faces a Rice team coming off a poor 2011 season, with a coach trying to turn it around a second time...

-- The UCLA Bruins travel to Houston for its season opener against the Rice Owls Thursday, at 4:36 PT. The game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan and Ron Zook in the booth.

-- This will be the fifth time in school history that UCLA has played Rice, being 4-0 against the Owls. The last meeting was in 2006 at the Rose Bowl, with the Bruins prevailing 26-16 behind 338 yards on the ground, mostly from UCLA running backs Chris Markey (208) and Kahlil Bell (102).

-- UCLA was 6-8 last season, and Rice was 4-8.

-- UCLA, of course, starts a new era under new head coach Jim Mora. Mora has 25 years of coaching experience in the NFL, was head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons, but is in his first season ever as a college head coach.

-- UCLA fired Rick Neuheisel after last season, when he posted a 6-8 record for 2011, including a 50-0 loss to USC. Neuheisel was 21-30 in four seasons at UCLA.

-- UCLA has gone through the worst stretch in its football history in the last 13 seasons, with an overall record of 81-80.

-- UCLA opened its season last year in Houston also, when it faced the Houston Cougars.

-- It's the third straight year that UCLA has opened its season on the road, and it's 3-3 in its last six season openers.

-- Rice, which plays in Conference USA West, is a small university (6,082 undergrad) with a good academic reputation, but a history of a mediocre football program, with an all-time record of 428-548-32 since 1912. In 100 seasons of college football, it's only had 7 conference titles and 6 All-Americans, and played in just 8 bowl games (4-4).

-- In fact, Rice for so long epitomized the little guy in college football that President John F. Kennedy used Owl football as an example of overcoming great odds in sending a man to the moon when he spoke in Rice Stadium on September 12, 1962: " 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?"

-- Rice is coached by David Bailiff, who is in his sixth season, having gone 23-38 in his first five. Bailiff, in 2008, led the Owls to perhaps the best season in its history, when it went 10-3 (its first 10-win season since 1949), 7-1 in conference, and led Rice to a victory in the Texas Bowl, its first bowl title in 50 years. Since, however, Bailiff and his Owls have struggled, going 10-26 in the last three years and, after giving Rice fans that taste of success, the natives are getting a little restless. Bailiff is a coach with a defensive background, but his calling card in 2008 was a potent offense. Generally the opinion on Bailiff is that he's a good coach but he just can't get the talent at Rice to sustain success.

-- Bailiff has re-shuffled his staff since last season, which includes hiring a new defensive coordinator (actually, promoting his cornerbacks coach, Chris Thurmond).

-- With UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley starting against Rice, UCLA has had two previous freshman quarterbacks start a season opener: Kevin Prince in 2009 and Bret Johnson in 1989.

-- Johnathan Franklin is ninth on UCLA's all-time career rushing list with 2,669 yards. Gaston Green holds the record with 3,731, which he gained in 1984-87.

-- UCLA is 7-24 in road games in the last five years.

-- Rice Stadium seats 47,000, and utilizes artificial turf.

-- The weather in Houston calls for a high of 94 on Thursday, with a 30% chance of thunder storms as a peripheral result from Hurricane Isaac.


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