HOUSTON -- Taylor McHargue threw for a touchdown and Jawon Davis ran for one on the next possession and Rice held on for a 17-13 win over Tulane to reach the Conference USA championship game for the first time.
The Owls (9-3, 7-1) dominated the game statistically but a date next weekend with East Division champion Marshall was in doubt until the end. BCS rankings will determine the game site.
The Green Wave (7-5, 5-3) opened the scoring with a Cairo Santos field goal but McHargue hit Turner Petersen for a 19-yard score late in the first quarter. Then early in the second Davis bolted 16-yards to make it 14-3. Standout kicker Chris Boswell made it 17-3 7 seconds before halftime.
Despite holding Tulane to 123 yards of offense, a 1-14 effort on third down and holding the ball for 18 more minutes, Rice struggled to close the deal.