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Sunday, June 4, 2023


The Houston-Rice rivalry is one with many wrinkles

Fiona Legesse/ The Cougar

Rice University was founded in 1912. Fifteen years later, the University of Houston was erected a few blocks away. Fortunately for sports fans of these schools, it’s been bad blood ever since.

The sports rivalry took a few years to develop to the version we see today. The UH football team didn’t exist until 1946, and the schools didn’t face each other until 1971.

However, they quickly made up for lost time as they saw each other annually for the next 24 years. With that kind of frequency, it’s no wonder that they harbor hostilities. Recently, UH has dominated this series against Rice.

The Cougars have won eight of the last 10 games and scored 73 points twice. The Owls have a chance in September to avenge an embarrassing loss in last season’s opener and also try to close the gap in their all-time series.

While UH definitely has the edge against Rice on the football field, the Owls control the diamond. Rice leads the all-time series against the Cougars and has been more successful.

In 2003, the Owls won the College World Series, a feat the Cougars have yet to accomplish. Wayne Graham led the baseball team to much of its success. He was the coach for 27 years, including the championship season.

He’s also created another wrinkle to the rivalry. Graham received a degree from UH and applied to be its baseball coach twice before Rice hired him in 1992.

The Cougars passed on an all-time great coach as he went on to win more than 1,000 games with the Owls. Graham definitely got revenge against Houston, as he ended his career with an 85-36 record against the school.

The Cougars have work to do to catch up in the series, and it might be years before the gap tightens. While the rivalry between these schools in sports is well-documented, the competition ascends the physical aspect.

Houston is a diverse city, so naturally, Houston’s universities emphasize having many different ethnicities and races on campus.

Rice and UH are both relatively elite in this regard, as College Factual ranks Rice at No. 152 of more than 2,000 schools in undergrad diversity. Not to be outdone, UH comes in at No. 72, establishing itself as one of the most diverse schools in the nation.

Academics are an important part of the rivalry, as both schools boast of elite education and high quality degrees. Rice takes a significant advantage here, as US News ranks it as the No. 14 school in the nationUH is only a few spots above No. 200.

While Rice definitely takes the edge here, UH students graduating in four years can do so with about $100 thousand for tuition and fees according to College Factual.

The Owls on average pay $60 thousand annually, not including financial aid. Students from Rice may feel that their steep cost is worth it, while some Cougars are happy they chose a cheaper school to enroll in.

Both schools will likely continue their war to gain a definitive advantage over the other by strengthening their athletic and academic programs. Luckily, those enrolled gain the largest benefit from this battle.

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