Above, TXST Bobcat Quarterback T.J. Finley symbolically 'bowls' a helmet during the team's last home game. The Bobcats will play Rice on Dec. 26 in the Servpro First Responder Bowl.
Photo by Ethan Torres/TXST University
Caleb Culp celebrates after returning the fumble for a touchdown, going 31 yards for the score as the Bobcats go up 7-0 on the South Alabama Jaguars in Texas State’s 52-44 win. The Bobcats will play Dec. 26 in the Servpro First Responder Bowl in Dallas–their first bowl appearance.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Kole Wilson returns the kickoff 100 yards in the Bobcat's last home game against South Alabama.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
'See you in Dallas'
To borrow a line from the late great Bobcat football player and country music star Charlie Robison song, 'My Hometown,'–'See you in Dallas.'
It was a celebration worth the 11-year wait as the Bobcats were selected to play in the 14th Annual Servpro First Responder Bowl Dec. 26 against the Rice Owls in the program’s first-ever bowl game as a FBS member. First Responder Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler said he was excited to add Texas State to the 2023 bowl game lineup, noting that the Bobcats are a Texas-based team playing in their first-bowl game, something they wanted.
“We always try to have one in-state team if we can,” Ringler said. “Seeing how Texas State did this season and the fact it is their first bowl game, we were excited to put the pin into that one and get Texas State up here.”
Head Coach G.J. Kinne was honored to not only have his team be selected for the bowl game but also have the opportunity to play the bowl game in Texas against a fellow Texas opponent.
“I’m obviously excited about the bowl game and getting selected,” Kinne said. “Getting to stay in Texas and play a [in-state opponent]. It’s always exciting to play in Dallas.'It’s a great venue at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.”
As for selecting both Texas State and Rice, the ability to add both in-state teams to this year’s game, a first in the bowl game history, was too good to pass up for Ringler.
“When we could add Rice to the mixture it made total sense,” Ringler said. “It’s an in-state matchup. The fact both can drive up the morning of or the day before whatever is best for family and friends to be a part of this matchup we thought made the most sense. Fortunately ESPN was able to make that happen.”
With the news coming out on Sunday, the ability for the Bobcats to play in front of their loved ones was one of the reasons Texas State wanted to play their bowl game in state.
“Our players were ecstatic,” Kinne said. “It’s great because a lot of their families and friends get to come and watch them play. Obviously Bobcat Nation is excited about getting to stay in Texas. I really believe that it’s going to be a packed out stadium largely due to the Bobcats fans.”
The First Responder Bowl was created in 2011 originally known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The game was originally played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium as a de facto replacement for the Cotton Bowl Classic which had moved to AT&T in 2010.
The first four editions of the First Responder’s Bowl were played on New Year’s Day before transitioning into its current spot playing the week of Christmas.
The First Responder played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium from 2011-2018 before moving to Gerald J. Ford Stadium in 2019 due to the Cotton Bowl hosting the NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators.
Since 2019, the First Responder Bowl has found its permanent home at Ford Stadium.
The First Responder Bowl has hosted seven Texas FBS programs since 2011 including Texas State and Rice.
The matchup between Texas State and Rice will be the fifth matchup between the two programs with the overall series tied at 2-2.
Texas State won in 1923 and 1986 while Rice won in 1920 and 1987.
This will be the first ever meeting between Texas State and Rice at the FBS level.
With the bowl game now set, the Bobcats are excited to play in the historic game for the Texas State football program.
“Seeing the team yesterday and the way they reacted to it, you can tell they were fired up,” Kinne said. “I’ve been a part of bowl games where there was fake juice. There was some real juice in here yesterday.”
cmcwilliams@ sanmarcosrecord.om Twitter: @ColtonBMc