The Owls football team’s strong finish to the 2012 season was officially rewarded Saturday when it accepted an invitation to face Air Force in the 10th annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Rice and Air Force will face off at 11 a.m. Dec. 29 at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. The game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN.
“I don’t know if I’ve had a more gratifying finish to a football season than this one,” said Rice Athletics Director Rick Greenspan. “This is a great day for the university, the Athletic Department and the football program. I am so proud of the job that David Bailiff did with his team.
“At one point we were 1-5 and then 2-6, and then for that young team, or one of the youngest teams in America, to essentially play every game as an elimination tournament, become bowl eligible and win a number of games in the fourth quarter was very, very gratifying,” Greenspan said.
Rice (6-6) earned its 10th bowl bid in school history and its third in seven years by winning five of the last six games in the season. The Owls reached bowl eligibility by defeating the University of Texas-El Paso 33-24 Nov. 24.
“We’re so excited to be going to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. We’ve been waiting on this invitation,” said head football coach David Bailiff. “We have a very resilient group of young men that showed up, even when we backed ourselves into the corner and knew we had to win out to become bowl eligible.”
This will be the Owls’ second consecutive bowl game in Texas and the seventh in Texas in Rice’s history. Rice played in four Cotton Bowls in Dallas, and both the Bluebonnet and Texas bowls in Houston. Rice is 5-4 in bowl game appearances, including a 38-14 win over Western Michigan in the 2008 Texas Bowl.
The Air Force Falcons are also 6-6 this season, including a 5-3 record in the Mountain West Conference. Rice and Air Force have met six times, with the Falcons holding a 5-1 lead in the series. They last met in 1998 when Air Force took a 22-16 decision. Rice’s lone win in the series came in 1986 (21-17).
The 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is returning to Amon Carter Stadium after having been played the last two years in Dallas due the $164-million renovations of the football facility on the campus of Texas Christian University.
Tickets for the game are now on sale through the Rice Athletics ticket office at 713-522-OWLS or online at https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/rice/EN/buy/details/1229bowl. Owl fans are reminded to order their tickets through Rice to access the school’s block of seats. Special ticket packages are also available. For more information, go to the official Bowl Central page: http://www.riceowls.com/gameday/bowl-central-armed-forces.html.