American Football Database
Bayou Bucket Classic
First contestedSeptember 11, 1971
Houston 23, Rice 21
Number of meetings42
Most recent meetingSeptember 1, 2018
Houston 45, Rice 27
Next meeting2020
All-time seriesHouston: 31–11 (.738)
Largest victoryHouston, 64–0, 1989
Longest win streakHouston, 6 (1987–1992)
Current streakHouston, 5 (2011–present)

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The Bayou Bucket Classic is the name given to the Houston–Rice football rivalry.[1] It is an annual college football game between rivals, the Houston Cougars and the Rice Owls, as a part of the Houston–Rice rivalry. The name of the game is a reference to one of Houston's popular nicknames as the Bayou City. Although a series between the two teams has existed since 1971, an award for the winner of each meeting was not official until 1974. The series signifies a college and crosstown rivalry.

From 1999 to 2001 Southwestern Bell was the title sponsor for the series, and it was branded as the Southwestern Bell Bayou Bucket Classic. From 2002 to 2005, Houston-based Administaff sponsored the series, and it was branded as the Administaff Bayou Bucket Classic. During the 1996 to 1998 football seasons, the series was on hiatus while the teams realigned themselves with other conferences after the demise of the Southwest Conference. The game for the Bayou Bucket in 1995 was the final game in the history of Southwest Conference football.


Pre–Bayou Bucket Classic

File:1995 Bayou Bucket Classic game ball.jpg

The game ball from the 1995 Bayou Bucket Classic, the last game in Southwest Conference history

In 1941, Johnny Goyen, then sports editor for The Cougar, and Jack Valenti, president of the sophomore class at the University of Houston, began a petition for an official intercollegiate football team at the university. The next year, the two called a student body meeting to organize another petition.[2] This petition's purpose was to challenge Rice Institute (later known as Rice University) to a football game. The Rice Owls were an established program, having played since 1919 as a member of the Southwest Conference.

During the spring training for the first team, Goyen and Valenti's petition was finally answered, as Houston coach Jewell Wallace arranged a small practice game between Rice and Houston.[2] The meeting was to be at Rice. When the team arrived at the field in their practice uniforms, they realized that the game was much more serious. Officials were there, and the stadium was full of spectators. With an attendance of 11,000, the game ended with Rice easily beating the Houston Cougars. It wouldn't be until 1971 that the Cougars and Owls competed again.

In the Summer of 1953, Hugh Roy Cullen (then chairman of the University of Houston Board of Regents) met with George R. Brown (then president of the Rice University Board of Governors), to sign a new contract for Houston to use Rice Stadium.[3] When asked if there was a discussion about the two universities possibly competing against each other in football, Brown said, "Not since 1950. We discussed it informally then." Cullen said, "They seem to think it would create too much of a rivalry. Our boys out at UH are working boys. They don't have time to fight."

Official play

Although Houston was accepted into the Southwest Conference for non-revenue sports during the 1971 season, the Cougars didn't join for football competition until 1976. Despite this, the first official game between the teams was played in 1971-with Houston winning, 23-21. In 1974, the tradition was further solidified by the official naming of the series as the "Bayou Bucket Classic". The 1995 meeting of the teams was the last football game of the Southwest Conference before it was disbanded.

Although on hiatus after the demise of the SWC, the rivalry was renewed in 1999. In 2005, the rivalry gained back significance after the Owls joined Conference USA in which Houston was a charter member. The game was announced to be played at Houston's Reliant Stadium for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.[4] The 2014 season marked the first time since 1998 that the two football programs did not compete.

The rivalry has been renewed for two home-and-home series for the 2017 and 2018 football seasons, and again for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.[5]

The 2009 Bayou Bucket Classic at Robertson Stadium

Game results

Houston victoriesRice victories
1 1971 Rice Stadium Houston 23–21
2 1972 Rice Stadium Rice 14–13
3 1973 Jeppesen Stadium No. 18 Houston 24–6
4 1974 Rice Stadium No. 19 Houston 21–0
5 1975 Jeppesen Stadium Rice 24–7
6 1976 Rice Stadium No. 7 Houston 42–20
7 1977 Rice Stadium Houston 51–21
8 1978 Jeppesen Stadium No. 9 Houston 49–25
9 1979 Rice Stadium No. 10 Houston 63–0
10 1980 Robertson Stadium Rice 35–7
11 1981 Rice Stadium Houston 40–3
12 1982 Robertson Stadium Houston 28–21
13 1983 Rice Stadium Houston 45–14
14 1984 Robertson Stadium Houston 38–26
15 1985 Rice Stadium Houston 24–20
16 1986 Robertson Stadium Rice 14–13
17 1987 Rice Stadium Houston 45–21
18 1988 Robertson Stadium No. 14 Houston 45–14
19 1989 Rice Stadium No. 13 Houston 64–0
20 1990 Robertson Stadium No. 13 Houston 24–22
21 1991 Rice Stadium Houston 41–21
22 1992 Robertson Stadium Houston 61–34
23 1993 Rice Stadium Rice 37–7
24 1994 Robertson Stadium Rice 31–13
25 1995 Rice Stadium Houston 18–17
26 1999 Robertson Stadium Houston 28–3
27 2000 Rice Stadium Rice 30–27
28 2001 Robertson Stadium Rice 21–14
29 2002 Rice Stadium Houston 24–10
30 2003 Robertson Stadium Houston 48–14
31 2004 Reliant Stadium Rice 10–7
32 2005 Robertson Stadium Houston 35–18
33 2006 Rice Stadium Houston 31–30
34 2007 Robertson Stadium Houston 56–48
35 2008 Rice Stadium Rice 56–42
36 2009 Robertson Stadium No. 25 Houston 73–14
37 2010 Rice Stadium Rice 34–31
38 2011 Robertson Stadium No. 18 Houston 73–34
39 2012 Reliant Stadium Houston 35–14
40 2013 Reliant Stadium Houston 31–26
41 2017 TDECU Stadium Houston 38–3
42 2018 Rice Stadium Houston 45–27
Series: Houston leads 31–11

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1 Wizig, Jerry (1977). Eat 'Em Up, Cougars: Houston Football. The Strode Publishers, Inc. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0873971221.
  3. Wizig, Jerry (1977). Eat 'Em Up, Cougars: Houston Football. The Strode Publishers, Inc. pp. 93. ISBN 0873971221.
  4. Bower, MoiseKapenda (2011-08-31). "Rice ready to compete when Bayou Bucket moves to Reliant". Fox Sports Houston. Retrieved 2011-10-09.[dead link]
  5. "Houston Cougars Football Schedules | Future Schedules" (in en-US). Retrieved 2016-07-28.

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