Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, July 21, 2019 — Houston, TX 83°

The Final Kauntdown: A day at the worst football game in the nation


By Andrew Grottkau     11/4/18 12:31pm

Saturday was one of the most pivotal days of the college football season. The No. 1 team in FBS, the University of Alabama, took on the No. 3 team, Louisiana State University, in a marquee primetime matchup with College Football Playoff implications.

I was not at the Alabama-LSU game. Instead, I attended what was undoubtedly the single worst game of the entire FBS season: Rice versus the University of Texas, El Paso.

The Owls entered the game 1-8, their only win coming back in August against FCS Prairie View A&M University by a mere three points. UTEP was 0-8 and had lost its last 20 games dating back to 2016. The Miners came in ranked No. 129 out of 130 in ESPN’s Football Power Index. The Owls were No. 130.

Naturally, I arrived 15 minutes late to the game—I couldn’t subject myself to such an ugly display of football for a full 60 minutes. I still managed to snag a seat in the front row.

Disregarding the context, it was actually a very enjoyable game to watch. UTEP went ahead 27-0, then led 34-3 in the third quarter. But Rice fought back, pulling within 34-26 midway through the fourth quarter thanks to a highlight-reel improvisation by freshman quarterback Wiley Green on a 53-yard touchdown pass. The Owls could get no closer, however, and fell by the eight point margin.

Watching the two worst teams in the nation square off felt like living in an alternate universe. Everything appeared normal on the surface, but there were little quirks reminding me that this was no typical football game.

When Rice fell behind 20-0 in the first half, the team was greeted with the typical jeers from frustrated fans. Only in addition to the typical calls to fire the coach and bench the quarterback, a group of fans screamed down to the field, ‘Defund the program!’

After UTEP missed an extra point following its second touchdown, the Marching Owl Band broke into a rendition of the Rice Fight Song. Apparently, it was time to celebrate being down just 13-0 instead of 14-0.

And there was an M-V-P chant when Rice’s best player took the field in the first half. But it wasn’t directed at a star running back: it was directed at the punter, senior Jack Fox.

When the game ended, UTEP players doused Head Coach Dana Dimel with Gatorade as the clock hit zero to celebrate the Miners’ first victory since Nov. 26, 2016. One UTEP player laid on the field with his arms raised and stared at the sky as if in disbelief. A couple UTEP fans even stormed the field as a cheerleader raced around the Rice Stadium turf waving a bright orange Miners flag.

Sports are usually about being No. 1. But watching two teams square off for No. 129 can be pretty exciting, too. After all, that Alabama-LSU game ended 29-0 in favor of the Crimson Tide, and I didn’t see any Alabama fans storm the field. I’ll take a 34-26 game that ends in a Gatorade bath over that snoozer any day.

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 7/1/19 10:23am
McNair Hall to open new coffee shop in the fall

A new coffee shop on the first floor of McNair Hall is projected to open for business this September, according to Peter Rodriguez, dean of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. According to Rodriguez, several external vendors are currently competing for a contract. Whichever vendor is selected will choose the baristas who will staff the coffee shop and the types of coffee and food offered, Rodriguez said.

NEWS 5/28/19 10:14am
Provost Miranda to step down, return to faculty role

 Provost Marie Lynn Miranda announced that she will be stepping down from her role as provost, a position she has held for the last four years, at the end of June, in an email sent last Sunday. Miranda will go on sabbatical for the 2019-2020 academic year, after which she plans on reassuming her faculty position in the department of statistics, according to Miranda’s email. Her decision follows the diagnosis of her youngest child with cancer last year.

NEWS 5/10/19 11:07am
Martel College senior Muna Uzodike to speak at graduation

“I truly believe we find our unique purpose in that space, because no one can be copied to the T,” Uzodike said. “We have a lot to bring to the table and I just want to remind people that no matter what space they find themselves in, they should never abandon the traits, gifts or skills that make them unique.”


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.