With the latest edition of the Bayou Bucket kicking off at Rice Stadium on Saturday, the R Blog has spent this week looking back at some of the Owls' memorable moments in the series with the Cougars since it began in 1971.
In our 10th and final installment, we take a look at a memorable finale by one of the Owls greatest offensive trios in history.
November 29, 2008
Rice 56, Houston 42
For most of the 2008 season, it became commonplace for Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard to be featured in a series of announcements regarding their progression through various record books.
But the talented duo's final appearance at Rice Stadium, became the final defining moment in the improbable tale of their talented teammate James Casey, as they treated the largest crowd in Rice Stadium in over eight years to a 54-42 win and add the Bayou Bucket to their list of accomplishments
The crowd of 35,534 was the largest crowd for an Owl home game since the 2000 Bayou Bucket drew 40, 714 to see the Owls win a thriller in overtime.
Casey, who had arrived on campus less than two years earlier, an unheralded former pro pitcher looking to pick up a game he'd not played since high school, smashed the C-USA season receiving record, catching 12 for 172 yards and three touchdowns, ran for a fourth score and threw for a fifth. It was the second time in 2008 that the multi-talented Casey had caught, ran and thrown for a touchdown in the same game. His 12 catches raised his season total to 104, making him the first Rice receiver to top 100 catches, and breaking the previous conference record of 101, set by Arnold Jackson of Louisville in 1999.
The Owls never trailed in the game, taking the opening kickoff and driving 72 yards to set up a 1-yard run by Casey. After Houston tied it up, the two teams traded punts before the Owls took their second lead on an eight-yard run by Clement. After the Cougars tied it back up at 14-14, Rice scored 21 straight points to gain the lead for good.
The Rice defense was equally inspired, thanks to the unforeseen return of their emotional leader, Brian Raines. Raines returned to the field just six weeks after he was told his career was over after breaking both bones in his left forearm. Wearing a protective cast over his injured arm, Raines set the early tone, picking off a deflected Case Keenum pass and returning it 24 yards to set up the Owls fourth touchdown of the game.
After scoring their first two scores on the ground, Clement and the Owls unleashed their air assault as the senior from San Antonio threw for five touchdowns to increase his career total to 96, tying Chase Daniel of Missouri for ninth on the NCAA career list.
The win was the Owls ninth of the season, their most wins since they won nine in 1953. They would cap their season with a victory in the Texas Bowl, becoming the second team in school history to win 10 games in a season.
The win was also the Owls sixth in a row to end the season, and gave them a perfect 6-0 record at home this year. They finished the season with a 7-1 record in C-USA play, their most wins in a conference season, and good enough for a share of the C-USA West title with Tulsa.