The 2013 Conference USA champion, Rice, returns to the postseason and will have the chance to provide a big win for the league when it plays Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.
The Owls (7-5) missed out on an opportunity to play one of the many postseason games in their home state, but they will get a shot at knocking off a team from the Mountain West Conference.
"This is a great day for Rice football and one that is a great reward for all the hard work that our players and staff have put into this program," coach David Bailiff said. "I know they are very proud to be the first team to earn a third straight bowl berth and they have the longest active bowl streak in Conference USA, but they are not going to be satisfied with a bid."
Rice won six straight games after starting the season 0-3. But then the Owls lost two of three to end the year, including the West Division title game at Louisiana Tech.
Quarterback Driphus Jackson and running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard have fueled the offense, but that offense has been inconsistent at times. The Rice defense is allowing more than 30 points per game and didn't play to the same level it did during the 2013 championship season.
Fresno State (6-7) started 0-3, won three straight games, lost three more, then ended the season on a three-game winning streak before falling 28-14 at Boise State in the MWC title game.
Quarterback Brian Burrell threw for 2,576 yards and 22 touchdowns this year but was also picked off 16 times. Running back Marteze Waller finished the season with 1,292 yards and 11 scores, so the Rice defense will have its hands full when facing FSU.
"We have great respect for Fresno State and the great job that Tim DeRuyter has done with their program," Bailiff said. "I know our players will be excited at the chance to travel to Hawaii and experience the great atmosphere of the islands, but I have no doubt that our team is also looking forward to the opportunity to end our season on a winning note."
Rice (7-5) earned the 12th bowl bid in school history by reaching seven wins for the third consecutive season. The Owls have posted a 24-15 record over the past three seasons, their best production over any similar time frame in school history. The Owls' three-bowl streak is the longest active streak in Conference USA.
This will be the seventh meeting between the two programs the Bulldogs won the first six when both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1996 to 2004.