Rice University won the Bayou Bucket after beating the University of Houston 56-42 on Nov. 29.
Rice University accepted a bid to play in the 2008 Texas Bowl at Reliant Stadium on Dec. 30, the Texas Bowl Committee announced Wednesday. Texas Bowl officials offered the Owls a bid to play in the game today and the team accepted on the spot.
The Owls have a 9-3 record this season, including a 7-1 mark in Conference USA action. This is Rice's second bowl appearance in the last three seasons. Rice's nine wins are the school's most since 1953 and the most in regular-season play since 1949.
Rice head coach David Bailiff is in his second season at the helm and has posted a 12-12 record. The Texas Bowl will be Bailiff's first bowl game as a head coach and the fourth of his coaching career. He coached in the 2001 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl, 2002 Liberty Bowl and 2003 Fort Worth Bowl as an assistant at TCU, and he led Texas State to the semifinals of the Division 1-AA playoffs in 2005 as the Bobcats head coach.
The Owls feature one of the nation's top offensive attacks. They rank fifth in the nation in passing (327.8 yards per game), eighth in scoring (41.6) and 10th in total offense (472.3). Quarterback Chase Clement is second among active passers with 96 career touchdown passes and he has teamed with wide receiver Jarett Dillard to set an NCAA career record for most touchdown passes by a duo (50). Dillard is the NCAA's career leader with 59 touchdown receptions and is the Conference USA career record holder in receiving yards (4,052). Tight end James Casey is second in the nation with a conference record 104 receptions.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be able to invite Rice to play in the Texas Bowl," Texas Bowl manager Heather Houston said. "Rice has had an amazing season and is one of the most exciting teams in the country. It will be a treat for football fans in Houston to see the Owls cap off this tremendous run right here at home."
Rice's opponent in the 2008 Texas Bowl will be announced later this week.
The 2008 Texas Bowl will be televised live nationally on NFL Network. The game will also be broadcast nationally by Westwood One radio and locally on KTRH 740 AM.
The Texas Bowl is partnered with the Conference USA and the Big 12 Conference. After the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) pairings have been set, the Texas Bowl holds the third selection among Conference USA-affiliated bowls and the seventh choice among Big 12-affiliated bowls.
TCU defeated the University of Houston, 20-13, on in the 2007 Texas Bowl before a crowd of 62,097. The audience was the third-largest crowd ever to see a college bowl game in Houston. The 2007 Texas Bowl attracted the eighth-largest crowd among non-BCS bowls last year.
The inaugural Texas Bowl was played on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006 at Reliant Stadium. Rutgers defeated Kansas State, 37-10, before a crowd of 52,210, the largest crowd to witness a bowl game in Houston not involving a Texas team since 1972.