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Rice’s first bowl appearance in eight years did not start well for the Owls, who fell behind 14 points at the break. Then, freshman quarterback A.J. Padgett came alive.
Two scoring passes in the first 64 seconds of the second half leveled the score against Southern Miss. At that point the LendingTree Bowl got interesting. Rice was gaining traction against its Sun Belt opponent, scoring 21 unanswered points.