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De­spite its lo­ca­tion in the foot­ball hot­bed of Texas, Rice doesn’t have much of a his­tory to flaunt. Of the Lone Star State’s ten long-stand­ing col­lege foot­ball pro­grams, Rice is truly the nerdy, younger brother (it takes pride in­stead in be­ing the best aca­dem­i­cally).

In­deed, the most rel­e­vant mo­ment in the school’s foot­ball his­tory was an epic burn, from a US pres­i­dent no less. In 1962, John Kennedy had come to Hous­ton to dou­ble down on his pro­posal of putting a man on the moon. The city would be the site of NASA’s head­quar­ters, and Rice was in­volved in the land deal. Speak­ing be­fore a crowd of 35,000 in the school sta­dium, Kennedy de­liv­ered a fa­mous speech in a pres­i­dency filled with them, the “We choose to go to the moon” speech.

Be­fore he de­liv­ered those stir­ring words, Kennedy laid out a dis­arm­ing ra­tio­nale: “Why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the high­est moun­tain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the At­lantic? Why does Rice play Texas?”

The joke, in­serted into the text of the speech by Kennedy him­self, has aged well. Since that time, Rice, which has only 4000 un­der­grad stu­dents, has only beaten leviathan Texas (about 40,000 stu­dents) twice in 45 games. Last sea­son, the Owls had a win-loss record of 3-9, and alas, did not play Texas (they will meet in 2019).

But as JFK said, there’s no­bil­ity in the at­tempt. Rice comes to Syd­ney hop­ing to turn around its game against Stan­ford last sea­son, a 41-17 loss.

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