Rice (10-3, 8-1 CUSA) was already lined up to go to a bowl game for the second straight season, but now they will do so as Conference USA champions for the first time in program history. The Owls, playing at home in Houston, defended their home turf against Marshall (9-4, 7-2 CUSA) in dominating fashion, winning by a score of 41-24.
Rice out-gained Marshall y more than 100 yards, 487-371. Considering how successful Marshal has been this season on offense, that is no small feat. Marshall had recorded at least 500 yards in each of their previous five games and failed to record 400 yards of offense just twice this season (Virginia Tech, FAU). Marshall had struggled on the road at times, so the home field advantage for Rice was nothing to overlook.
Rice pulled some tricks to get on top early and running back Charles Ross had 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns to help pace the offense. The Owls jumped out of halftime with a 13-0 third quarter, which helped to keep Marshall at a distance. Rakeem Cato was 24 of 41 for 265 yards and two touchdowns but the big plays just were not there often enough for Marshall’s quarterback this week.
With the Conference USA championship, Rice should be heading to the Liberty Bowl, which hosts the Conference USA champion. This will be the first time Rice has played in the Liberty Bowl. The Liberty Bowl also has a tie in with the SEC, but seven their bowls get their pick of SEC teams before the Liberty Bowl gets to make a selection. Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss could all be options for the Liberty Bowl to choose from.
UPDATE (4:26 PPM): Marshall has accepted an invite to the Military Bowl, which will be played in Annapolis, Maryland this season.