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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State seeks to claim first bowl game victory in program history

Mandalyn Lewallen
The Texas State football team celebrates a touchdown against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

In what has been nine years in the making, Texas State football (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt Conference) will face Rice University (6-6, 4-4 American Athletic Conference) in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Tuesday, December 26 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

This will be Texas State’s first bowl game appearance since joining the FBS in 2012. For Rice, Tuesday’s contest will be its second consecutive bowl game appearance and 14th in its program history. The Owls earned bowl eligibility with a 24-21 victory against Florida Atlantic in their final regular season game.

Texas State and Rice have previously met four times dating back to 1920. The last matchup was in 1987 resulting in a 38-28 Rice victory.

“There’s a little extra juice any time you get to play an in-state team,” Texas State Head Coach G.J. Kinne said. “We recruit against Rice. Some of [our players] probably wanted to go to Rice and vice versa. It’s an American [Athletic Conference] team that’s always fun [adding to] the American [Conference] Sun Belt [Conference] rivalry.”

The Owls are led by redshirt freshman quarterback A.J. Padgett who stepped into the starting role after previous starting quarterback J.T. Daniels chose to medically retire during the season.

Padgett played in four games during the 2023 regular season, throwing for 636 yards, seven touchdown passes and three interceptions. Padgett led the Owls to back-to-back wins in their final two games to earn the team a bowl game bid.

“[A.J. Padgett] is a really good player,” Texas State defensive coordinator Jonathan Patke said. “He can throw the ball, has the ability to run, he can control the offense well. This will be his fifth start, so he’s comfortable now with the system they [Rice] run.”

According to Patke, the Owls’ potent offensive attack will present the
Texas State defense with numerous problems, beginning with redshirt junior running back Luke McCaffrey, the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey.

“[Luke] McCaffrey is a great player. They’re going to get the ball to him,” Patke said. “He gets the ball in every which way you can. He comes from a great pedigree, so we have to know where he is at all times.”

A win on Tuesday will give Texas State its first eight-win season, and its long sought-after bowl game victory since becoming an FBS program.

Kickoff between Texas State and Rice is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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