Saturday was the annual battle between Rice and SMU, which has been called the battle for the Mayors Cup since 1998. This is the 89th meeting between these two excellent private Universities and what a series it has been. SMU has a slight edge on this series going 47-40-1 since the inception of the series. SMU also won the last two games in this series. Rice has not beaten SMU in Dallas since 1997.
The game itself started like you almost would have expected it. It was senior day on the hilltop and the Mustangs jumped out to a 14-0 lead and looked poised to dominate this game in easy fashion. But there were plenty of mistakes and penalties that opened the door for Rice to keep it close. One such mistake was a Rice interception in the 2nd quarter making the score 14-7.
That is where the first half ended, but Rice would get the ball to start the second half and they looked like they wanted to tie it up on the first series out of the gate. However, SMU’s defense kept them in check and forced a punt, which was a constant throughout the day. Rice didn’t even get their initial first down of the game until the end of the 1st half.
The game was intense and tied early in the game because of a SMU fumble and a Rice return for a touchdown. Needless to say this seemed to ignite the sparse Rice crowd. Tying the game showed a shift in momentum and resulted in some tempers starting to flare. The crowd was small, but exceptionally rowdy and you could actually feel the tension in the stadium. Later in the game Rice was able to take their first and only lead, late in the 3rd quarter on a 49 yard field goal from Chris Boswell.
Suddenly the Mustang offense ignited as SMU reeled of seventeen unanswered points in the fourth quarter. You would have thought the game was over as Rice had the dejected look of a loser with ten minutes left in the game. However, to everyone’s surprise Rice wasn’t ready to lie down and die just yet. With great intensity Rice drove down and scored a touchdown with about 2 minutes to play. Then, of all things they successfully pulled off an onside kick and suddenly we had a new game on our hands. “Big Mo” seemed to have moved to the Rice bench.
Suddenly it was a 3 point game. Late in the game Rice was driving and it came down to a 4th down play to see if Rice was going to tie, or SMU was going to win. Rice threw an incomplete pass which sealed a 27-24 SMU victory. The Mustangs have now won 48 games against the Rice Owls, which is the most of any opponent SMU has played. The Mayors cup is staying with SMU and also June Jones and his squad notched their 7th win of the season. With great pride and anticipation they are waiting for their bowl invitation to see where they will be playing in December. It’s hard to believe SMU has improved to a point where they are waiting to see which bowl will invite them. Happiness and success has returned to the hilltop.
As mentioned, today was also “Senior Day” and what a way for the seniors to end their careers at SMU. Change is in the air for the Mustangs. They are doing everything right and have the right man as head coach. June Jones said he was happy with the victory and was thrilled to send off the seniors with a win, but showed some disappointment in the small crowd attending the game. It is safe to say people in the area and on the hilltop are going to take notice of this team. Dallas loves a winner and June Jones has his 3rd winning season here. The real bright spot is they appear poised to be strong again next season. It won’t be a secret for long if the Ponies keep on winning the crowds will come.Please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook