Bowl Player Profiles & History
Western Michigan (9-3) vs. Rice (9-3)
Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m. ET, NFL Network
|Texas Bowl History
||TCU 20, Houston 13
||Rutgers 37, Kansas State 10
27, Iowa State 24
||Colorado 33, UTEP 28
||Texas Tech 38, Navy 14
||Oklahoma St 33, So Miss 23
||Texas A&M 28, TCU 9
||East Carolina 40, Texas Tech 27
Tickets for the Texas Bowl
2008 CFN Texas Bowl Preview
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Best Owl Bowl
Back in the day, Rice was a feisty program under legendary coach
Jess Neely, stepping up every few years and winning a Southwest
Conference championship. Led by the dynamic pitch-and-catch combo of
Tobin Rote to Froggy Williams and a cast of talented seniors, the
1949 squad was the best of the lot, going 10-1 and capping the year
with a 27-13 Cotton Bowl victory over North Carolina and Choo Choo
Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Western Michigan’s next bowl victory
will be its first. The Broncos came close in the 1988 California
Bowl, nearly shocking high-powered Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium
before falling short, 35-30, to the passing of Mark Barsotti and the
running of game MVP Darrell Rosette.
The Last Time You'll See ...
QB Chase Clement. When the program shifted in 2006 from Ken
Hatfield’s option to a pro-style attack under Todd Graham, who could
have imagined Clement would blossom into a star? No one has had a
bigger hand in the Owls’ two recent bowl appearances than the
senior, who owns just about every school passing record, accounting
for 120 touchdowns, over 11,000 total yards, and a ton of clutch
plays late in close games.
WR Jamarko Simmons. Simmons will be leaving Kalamazoo with no less
than 254 grabs, making him the school’s all-time leader in
receptions. A physical 6-2, 230-pounder, he uses his body well in
traffic and has a knack for making yards after the catch. Although
they won’t be facing each other, the cold war between Simmons and
Rice’s Jarett Dillard, two of this year’s top 10 most prolific
receivers, will be an intriguing game-within-the-game.
Breakout Player ...
S Travis Bradshaw. Bradshaw must’ve known something that others
didn’t when he turned down scholarship to walk on at Rice. Just a
redshirt freshman, he’s been one of the big surprises on defense for
the Owls, making 81 tackles, breaking up five passes, and really
having an impact toward the end of the year. Bradshaw has been
particularly effective in run defense and as an open-field tackler.
Western Michigan: WR Juan Nunez. In a complimentary role, Nunez
has carved out a productive niche in the Bronco passing game, making
55 catches for 661 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he better
start getting used to more attention. Three of this year’s top four
receivers, Jamarko Simmons, Schneider Julien, and Branden Ledbetter
are seniors, meaning the sophomore will be play sans protection next
Best Non-Game Event
The bowl’s signature event is Rodeo Bowl, which is held at the George
Historical Ranch, located about 20 minutes southwest of Houston. They
take both teams out there one evening and volunteers from the Houston
Livestock Show & Rodeo set up rodeo events for the teams to compete
against one another. Some of the events are cow chip tossing, a calf
scramble, and a roping contest. Afterwards, they have a big barbecue for
both teams with live music so that they can all relax and have a good
time. Two years ago, it was especially fun watching the Rutgers kids try
to figure out what in the world they had gotten themselves into.
For fans, it's probably TexFest. TexFest is a massive pre-game party
that’s thrown right outside the stadium. It's free to anyone, and you
don't even need a game ticket to attend. There's food, drinks, and games
all over the place. Both teams enter the stadium by walking right
through the middle of it, so team arrivals are a big deal with their
bands and fans lining the walkway. There is also live music by Texas
country music artists, which usually will draw a number of their fans on
Player Gift Package
Each player gets a $350 Best Buy gift card, a Swisstek watch, an
Under Armour HeatGear Long-Sleeve Tee, an Under Armour twister pant, an
Under Armour tech cap, a Toppers backpack, and a commemorative belt
The unique thing this year is the Best Buy gift card. While most bowls
give some sort of high tech gift, they’re giving the players the gift
card and then turning them loose on a shopping spree inside a local Best
Buy. It allows the kids a bit more freedom to choose something they'll
really use, plus it should be a pretty fun photo op as well.
The charitable beneficiary is DePelchin Children's Center. The
agency was founded in 1892 by Kezia Payne DePelchin to shelter orphaned
children. Over the years, DePelchin has expanded and adapted its
programs to meet the needs of a dynamic and growing Houston. Today,
DePelchin Children's Center, with the continued support of the Houston
community, is the largest and most comprehensive provider of children's
social and mental health services in the Houston area.
The Texas Bowl donated $50,000 to DePelchin in 2006 and increased that
amount to $80,000 last year. The goal is $100,000 for this year's game.
How Success is Measured
The game has have five primary objectives by which success is
measured: 1. Deliver a memorable experience for the athletes, schools,
and conferences. First and foremost, this game is for the teams, and the
committee wants to make sure that they have a great experience
throughout the week.
Create an entertaining and engaging experience for the fans. They look
at how many "Bowl Backer" ticket packages are sold and how many tickets
are sold locally, particularly those sold before the teams are
announced. If people are buying tickets before the team announcement is
made, that probably means they either had a good time last year or heard
good things about the game and want to see for themselves.
Positively impact an important and distinctively Texan charity. Again,
DePelchin is their partner and their goal is to donate $100,000 this
Deliver visibility, positive perception, and economic impact for
Build a stable economic model to allow long-term bowl sustainability and
a platform for growth. Again, local ticket sales are a big component of
this. There will be years where the matchup isn't as attractive as
others, so they have to count on Houstonians to fill up the stands
year-in, year-out. The only way to do
that is to put on a great event and make sure they enjoy the experience
as a whole. They also look at how they’re doing with local sponsorships
and trade agreements to determine if the Houston business community is
supporting the game? Thus far, the answer has been a resounding yes.
MVP of the Bowl
Heather Houston. Heather is the Texas Bowl Manager and is essentially
the person in charge of every aspect of the game. The game’s full-time
bowl staff is only four people (many on the Texans staff work the game,
but are technically considered volunteers). Heather is constantly
working the phones with coaches, athletic directors and conference
commissioners to secure the best possible matchup for the game. When
she's not doing that, she's working with the board of directors or
finalizing details at the team hotels or talking to local companies
about purchasing ticket blocks. On top of that, she has volunteers
calling her at all hours to see what they can do to help out.
One neat little note about Heather: she is one of two women in the
country, along with Missy Setters at the Independence Bowl, to be in
charge of an NCAA bowl game. Given the perception of bowl games being
decided by a the good ol' boy network in some smoky backroom, it’s a
credit to Heather that she and Ms. Setters have broken that stereotype.
Impact to the Community
The Texas Bowl has been a tremendous boost for the Greater Houston area.
According to the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Texas Bowl
has generated an average of $25 million in local revenue over the past
two years, putting it on par with major conventions such as the Offshore
Technology Conference in terms of economic impact in the greater Houston
The hidden benefit of the bowl on the local economy is its timing. Fans
traveling in to root on their school fill up hotel rooms during the week
between Christmas and New Years, which is generally an extremely slow
period for the hospitality industry since most folks spend that time at
home or with family.
Role of Volunteers
Volunteers are on the front line of making the Texas Bowl a
memorable and positive experience for the teams that come to the game.
Their enthusiasm for football and love of the Houston community create
the perfect hosts the game needs for this event.
Right now, they’re working with about 200 volunteers at the Texas Bowl.
Their responsibilities are extremely varied, but they are broken down
into two main functions: hospitality and events. Hospitality includes
the Team Hospitality, Media Relations, Family Hosts, and Band
Hospitality sub-committees. The Events Committee is broken down into
sub-committees for Rodeo Bowl, TexFest, and In-Game. As mentioned
earlier, many members of the Texans staff work on a volunteer basis as
well, and they couldn't pull it off without their help.
Rice Bowl History (4-4)
Troy 41, Rice 17
Kansas 33, Rice 7
Mississippi 14, Rice 6
Navy 20, Rice 7
Rice 28, Alabama 6
Rice 27, North Carolina
Rice 8, Tennessee 0
Rice 28, Colorado 14
Western Michigan Bowl History (0-3)
Cincinnati 37, Western
Fresno St 35, Western
New Mexico 28, Western
2008 CFN Texas Bowl Preview