October 2016 Archives

Grounded Owls Closed 2003 in Style

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Rice @Louisiana Tech
Saturday, October 29 /6 p.m. /Joe Alliet Stadium / Ruston, Louisiana
Radio: SBNation 1560
Webcast: Campus Insiders / Twitter


 After a lone meeting in 1966 at Rice Stadium that is better remembered now as the collegiate debut of the future head of the "Duck Dynasty" Robertson family, Phil Robertson at quarterback, Rice and Louisiana Tech first began a regular series in 2001 when the Bulldogs joined the WAC.

After splitting games at their own stadiums the first two years, Rice broke through with the first road win with a dominating demonstration of Ken Hatfield's option offense in the final game of the 2003 season.

Robbie Beck ran for three touchdowns as Rice totaled a school- and conference-record 692 rushing yards to beat Louisiana Tech 49-14, ending the year with three consecutive wins to finish 5-7 overall and 5-3 in the WAC.

Rice kept to the running game and had three players with over 100 yards rushing. Thomas Lott led with 127 yards on 11 carries, quarterback Kyle Herm had 115 yards on 17 carries and Beck 108 on 13 tries.

The big rushing day easily eclipsed the Rice single-game recorded of 515 yards against Arkansas in 1953. The previous Western Athletic Conference record was 646 yards by Air Force against New Mexico in 1987.

Rice also set school single-game records with 733 total yards and 35 first downs.

Beck scored Rice's first two TD runs -- one from six-yards out and the other from 12 -- in the opening four minutes of the first quarter. 

Herm tacked on a 12-yard TD run to give Rice a 21-0 lead going into the second quarter. Herm was two-of-three for 42 passing yards. The Rice Owls (5-7, 5-3 WAC) led 28-7 at halftime. 

Beck's third touchdown came in the third quarter. He scored on a 14-yard rush that gave Rice a 35-7 lead with 10:54 left in the quarter. 

Also scoring for Rice were Ed Bailey, Jordan Kramer and Marcus Rucker, all on runs. Bailey scored on a one-yard rush in the opening minutes of the second quarter and Kramer scored a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Rucker took in a 39-yarder with 9:56 left in the game.

Louisiana Tech quarterback Luke McCown, who had led the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind win at Michigan State earlier in the season,  was 18-of-30 for 242 passing yards and no interceptions.


Both Louisiana Tech touchdowns came off of McCown throws: a 38-yard pass to Ryan Moats with 11:27 left before halftime and a nine-yard pass to Chris Norwood with 3:05 left in the third. 

The Bulldogs (5-7, 3-5) had 344 passing yards and 97 yards on the ground. Moats ran for 37 yards on 11 carries and gained 88 yards on seven catches.

Getting to Know: Campus Insiders

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Watch on Twitter 

Watch on 

.When the Rice Owls take on Louisiana Tech on Saturday night, they will make their debut on Conference USA's new digital partner, Campus Insiders which will provide the broadcast both online at its website as well as to a wide array streaming applications  as well as via Twitter.

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Saturday's game is the third of six Conference USA games to be broadcast by Campus Insiders and Rice will return to the platform for its final C-USA road game this year, November 12 at Charlotte.

Ray Crawford (@RayCrawford) will handle the play-by-play duties and be joined by former Notre Dame and Houston Texans running back Darius Walker.   Crawford serves as the primary studio host for CI covering football and basketball programs in addition to handling play-by-play He is a graduate of Bowling Green and worked in local television sports as well as for Fox Sports Ohio before joining Campus Insiders in 2012.

Walker played for parts of four seasons in the NFL, including the Texans in 2007-08 where he was a teammate of current Owls' defensive line coach Frank Okam.   After retiring from the NFL, he began his broadcast career as a sideline reporter for Mountain West Sports Network in 2011 and has also worked with ESPN and Fox Sports. 

This is the first year of a partnership to produce and stream live content from the league. Campus Insiders will showcase a number of live-stream events from other C-USA sports, numerous interviews, on-demand video content, as well as feature stories and highlight packages throughout the year.

Campus Insiders is the fastest growing, most engaged destination for college sports fans of any age and level. The all-digital platform brings fans the latest news, live coverage, and most innovative and unique stories from college conferences across the country, with high-quality content including live studio shows, video-on-demand (VOD), and more than 3,000 live games and events. Campus Insiders' video programming is available on, Campus Insiders mobile and tablet apps, as well as various streaming applications and connected devices such as Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox and go90. For more information, visit 



Thurmond Remembers Dennis Byrd

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Dennis Byrd making headlines on a Saturday was a way of life for Chris Thurmond in the mid 1980's when Byrd was a defensive linemen at Tulsa where Thurmond was coaching the defensive backs. 

However, the headline this past Saturday was one Thurmond, the Owls' Defensive Coordinator,  and countless others would prefer had never been written.

Byrd, 50, was killed in an accident on a highway not far from his home in near Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, bring a sudden end to a life that had inspired many,  first with his exploits on the field and perhaps even more so in his recovery from a spinal injury that cut short his NFL career.

Byrd had resolutely refused to believe the dire prognosis from medical doctors after a collision with a teammate on a pass rush against the Chiefs on November 29, 1992 caused severe damage to his neck and spinal cord.  He defined the odds to gain a level of mobility that allowed him to return the following  season to serve as an honorary captain in the Jets home opener.

He returned to Oklahoma to coach at the high school level and also worked for a time as an analyst for CBS television. A devout Christian, he was active on the speaking circuit while also devoting himself to his wife and family.

"Football was a huge deal to Dennis and he played with so much passion," Thurmond recalled. "One day in practice he missed a tackle, punched the ground and broke his hand.  That was the kind of passion that he brought to the field every day. But he always had things in perspective--his family, his spiritual life and all the other things that make you a well-rounded person. "

Thurmond may not have coached Byrd at Tulsa, but as is often the case, the shared experience of being on the same team creates a bond that only grows stronger over the years.

"When I was coaching at Oklahoma, I'd run into him at various coaching functions or other events and it was always a special time when we did have a chance to visit," Thurmond noted. "After guys get done playing, when you meet it's not so much that you rehash all the things that happened. You become friends and you enjoy hearing about family and what they are doing now.

"It wasn't like we talked that often or kept up with each other regularly, but I have incredible memories of him and remember some great games he had against Oklahoma State and Arkansas.  Every game he was a difference maker," he added.

In the days since the news first broke, Thurmond has had occasion to hear from former players from those Tulsa teams of the mid 1980's, either to give him updates on arrangements or share a memory.  

"Sometimes we over-emphasize the loss of someone because they are a professional athlete or a celebrity of some kind.  But this is not that we lost a former great football player, the loss is that we  lost the type of person that he was because he influenced so many," Thurmond said.

"There have been so many guys who have called the last couple of days to talk about him. He was unbelievably impactful."

Getting to Know: beIN Sports

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beIN College Football Logo small.png

Saturday's game with UTSA will also mark the Owls broadcast debut on one of Conference USA's new broadcast partners, beIN Sports.

So just who is beIN Sports and what are the options available to watch Saturday's game?  Glad you asked.

beIN was launched in 2012 and is the fastest growing global sports network in the U.S. and is offered on 9 of the largest 10 cable/satellite TV providers in the U.S., as well as other regional and local systems across the country.   You can find it on DirecTV (620), Dish (392), Verizon FiOS/Frontier (596) as wella s AT&T U-verse (662/1662).


In addition, with beIN Sports Connect and the beIN Connect app, you will also have full access to the stream of Saturday's game on your tablet or mobile device.

A cornerstone of beIN SPORTS has been its unrivaled live soccer coverage which includes live matches from Spain's LaLiga, Italy's Serie AFrance's Ligue 1England's Sky Bet Championshipthe United States' NASL, and CONMEBOL/CONCACAF/CAF World Cup Qualifiers, as well as news and in-depth analysis of top leagues from around the world.

This summer, beIN announced it was adding football to its fĂștbol lineup and joined the Conference USA lineup in time for the first kickoffs of 2016.   They will also carry a slate of men's and women's basketball and baseball.

Matt Martucci will handle the play-by-play and be joined in the booth by former Miami All-American center Brett Romberg, while Jordan Daigle will report from the sidelines.  The threesome has been in town since Thursday preparing for the game.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.  Saturday night.  If you can't join us in person, we hope you enjoy this first offering from our newest broadcast partner. 





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