Rice head coach David Bailiff is doused by his players after the Owls defeated Marshall 41-24 in the Conference USA championship NCAA college football game at Rice Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Houston.
Smiley N. Pool/AP
The Liberty Bowl…it might not be a BCS bowl, but that didn’t stop the Rice Owls from celebrating like they were selected to play for the National Championship.
After going 10-3 and winning the C-USA title Sunday in the conference championship game against Marshall, a Liberty Bowl representative met the team in the locker room to extend a formal invitation. Already in a great mood, the team can be heard silently celebrating waiting for a moment to erupt.
As the players egg on Coach David Bailiff to say yes after the representative gives his â"30-second history" of the game, tension mounts until that final moment and handshake, then, a no-holds-bar celebration takes place.
The Owls will play the SEC’s Mississippi State on Dec. 31 in Memphis during the 50th anniversary of the Liberty Bowl.
"We know we are in for a tremendous challenge, but that’s what is exciting about the season we have had," Bailiff said of the matchup via the Associated Press. "I know our players are excited to play a team from the SEC and ready to get to work as soon as we can."
The New Year’s Eve game will mark the Owls’ first appearance in the Liberty Bowl and their first back-to-back bowl game appearance since 1960 and 1961.
The excitement of a team overachieving, getting a chance to perform on a bigger stage and the pure joy that follows these young guys is why we love college athletics.