Rice is an outstanding academic institution that tends to seem out of focus when it comes to their football program. Despite some recent bowl success, the Owls appeared doomed to roost among the average in Conference USA. Further evidence of this came on this night when Baylor came to town. Of the mere 23,000 fans that showed up, around half displayed green and yellow in support of their Bears. Rice fans were not very vocal. However, their team did not provide them with much to exercise their vocal cords. In fact, the only thing that appeared to stop the Baylor offense was a lightning delay early in the second quarter.
At this point, the Bears held only a 7-3 advantage, but clearly still had control. Fans began to clear the stands to wait on the storm to pass. In the covered concourse that circles the stadium, lines for beer and food tripled in length as folks searched for entertainment. The Baylor band blasted their fight song a few times to keep the blood moving through the hibernating Bear fans. After nearly an hour of lightning flashes and pouring rain, the fans that stuck around began to trickle back into the stadium. Rice would have been better off if they called the game. The lighting sent electricity through the Baylor offense and caused a delay in Owl attack. QB Robert Griffin III fried Rice for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The 30-13 final does little to advertise Baylor’s dominance in this game.
Although Rice did not manage to catch the Bears on this night, there was cause for celebration. This night was the 60th anniversary of Rice Stadium. The Mob, Rice’s eccentric band, offered a tribute to this historic stadium at halftime. Poking fun at the stadium’s age and suggesting renovations while also paying tribute to the many legends that passed through over the years, the band brought a laugh to the onlookers.
Unfortunately, the band is what brings many fans to Rice games. Even still, week after week, the upper decks of this grand arena that overlooks the Houston skyline continue to reflect the stadium lights from the empty bleachers. Even if the Owls managed a conference championship season, one still comes away finding it hard to believe that the stadium will ever fill with blue and gray fans. Certainly tonight, Baylor did not help bring Rice closer to that goal.