Texas leads historic rivalry over former conference foe

Kristin Otto

Since the first Longhorn-Owl face-off in 1914, UT has defeated Rice 70 times, lost 20 games and tied one. This weekend’s meeting will mark the 93rd anniversary of what has become a historic football rivalry.

From the get-go, UT asserted its scoring superiority over the Owls. In the first two games played between the teams, the Longhorns clenched back-to-back shutouts; they crushed the Owls 41-0 in 1914 and again in 1915 with a whopping 59-0 defeat. Texas proved victorious the following year with a 16-2 win, but Rice finally took its first game in 1917, defeating the Longhorns 13-0. However, the Owl claim to football fame was short-lived. Only a year later, the Rice Owls — in their first home game against the Longhorns — fell 14-0.

Although dominated by the unparalleled talent of Texas football, the rivalry continued throughout the 20th century. Between 1966 and 1993, Texas won 28 consecutive games against Rice — the sixth-longest winning streak against a single team in the history of college football.

The schism in skill between the Longhorns and Owls was so widely recognized that President John F. Kennedy likened the difficulty of going to the moon to the possibility of Rice beating Texas in football.

During his 1962 speech on the space program — which he delivered to a stadium filled with Rice Owls — JFK commented, “Why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the Moon, we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … ”

Following the demise of the historic Southwest Conference, which both teams were a part of, in 1996, Texas joined the Big 12 while Rice aligned with Conference USA. However, both teams continue to make an appearance on one another’s schedule almost every year. In recent history, the Longhorns have maintained their dominance in games against the Owls.

Notable victories include Texas’ 52-7 drubbing in 2006, its 58-14 victory over the Owls in 2007, and the Longhorn’s 52-10 blowout victory in 2008. Although the Horns went 5-7 in the 2010-11 season, they won last year’s contest 34-17.

If history is any indicator, it is safe to say that the only nocturnal action Saturday night will be the celebration of Longhorn football fans.