Owls, Bailiff look to continue success

Special $10 student tickets for Owls-Aggies game

After winning five games in a row and ending last season by capturing the Armed Forces Bowl trophy with a 33-14 win over Air Force, the Rice Owls football team doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels in 2013.

Head football coach David Bailiff will return 19 of the team’s 22 2012 starters, as well as 54 lettermen and an intact coaching staff.

“We have high expectations this year,” Bailiff said. “We set our goals high. We’ve got 23 senior leaders that we’re quite proud of. We have an experienced football team, and we’ve got some depth. We want to win a conference championship and we want to get to the Liberty Bowl. Those are high expectations, but those are the goals of this football team.”

The Owls will have their hands full when their 102nd season kicks off Aug. 31. Rice will travel to College Station and Kyle Field to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

Rice celebrates

Rice celebrates Armed Forces Bowl win.

The Aggies’ inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) was impressive; they went 6-2 in conference play and 11-2 overall. They capped their season by beating the Oklahoma Sooners 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl. Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel was honored in December with the 2012 Heisman Trophy, the award given to “the most outstanding college player in the United States” that year. During the regular season, Manziel completed 273 of his 400 passes, which led to 3,419 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

“Everyone knows Kyle Field is crazy, so going in there with them coming off the season they had is going to be a lot of fun,” said senior tight end Jeremy Eddington. “We’ve (team seniors) played Texas; we’ve played Baylor. So it’s time to cross Texas A&M off the list also. You couldn’t ask for anything better than to just go in there at noon the first game of the college football season.”

Rice Athletics is offering a special student discount for tickets to the Owls-Aggies game. Rice students with a valid ID can purchase one ticket for $10 (regular price is $60) by going to the Tudor Fieldhouse ticket window Aug. 27 and Aug. 28. The tickets will be issued at will-call at Kyle Field; transportation is not included.

“We want to make it possible for our students to see a great football matchup,” said Rick Mello, interim athletics director. “We want to see some blue and gray in the stands of Kyle Field cheering our guys on.”

The Owls’ second game and home opener will come two weeks later, after a bye week, when they face Kansas.

“I think we have a really special opportunity to change kind of how people view Rice,” said senior quarterback Taylor McHargue. “It’s not just a great academic institution; it’s just not a baseball school. We have an opportunity to show that we’re a good football program that attracts big-time players and that we go to big-time bowl games.”

The Owls’ Conference USA (C-USA) schedule will look a lot different this year, as conference realignment nationally has changed the face of the conference. Memphis, Southern Methodist, University of Houston and Central Florida will now play in the American Athletic Conference. Teams starting play in C-USA in 2013 are Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and North Texas from the Sun Belt and Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech from the Western Athletic Conference.  Eleven of the 12 team’s games will be televised.

The Owls will start conference play at home Sept. 28 against Florida Atlantic.

Senior placekicker Chris Boswell summed up what many Owls are saying in the preseason: “As high as we can reach is what I want to reach.”

To purchase tickets to upcoming Rice Owls football games, visit riceowls.com or call 713-522-OWLS (6957).

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.