Dec. 8, 2013
The Rice Owls, champions of Conference USA, will face the Mississippi State Bulldogs of the Southeastern Conference in the 55th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. Kickoff for the nation's seventh oldest college football bowl game is set for 3 p.m. on December 31 with the game being broadcast nationally by ESPN.
"We're excited to face Mississippi State," Rice head coach David Bailiff said. "Dan Mullen and his staff are doing a great job. You look at their schedule and you see they only lost to Auburn by three at Auburn, and they lost a shootout with Texas A&M. They really closed ranks and showed great character down the stretch, winning those last two games in overtime to become bowl eligible. We know we are in for a tremendous challenge, but that's what is exciting about the season we have had. I know our players are excited to play a team from the SEC and ready to get to work as soon as we can."
Bailiff and the Owls (10-3) earned a berth in the game after capturing their first C-USA title with a 41-24 victory over Marshall on Saturday at Rice Stadium. They are headed to bowls in consecutive seasons for only the second time in school history and to their third bowl game in Bailiff's seven seasons as head coach.
This will be the Owls first appearance in the Liberty Bowl and will be their second meeting with Mississippi State. The two schools met at Rice Stadium on October 11, 1975, with the Bulldogs taking a 28-14 victory.
Mississippi State (6-6) earned its berth in a school-record fourth consecutive bowl game by winning its final two games in overtime to reach bowl eligibility.
Tickets for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl are on sale through RiceOwls.com. Rice fans are reminded to purchase their tickets through the Rice Athletic Ticket Office to ensure that Rice can meet all of the necessary financial obligations to the bowl game as well as to position Rice for future bowl game selections. Fans who cannot attend the game have the option of purchasing tickets that will be donated to deserving youth in the Memphis area.