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The Falcons ran the wishbone offense and had the most regular season victories in program history with eleven, but a conference loss to rival and defending national champion BYU at Provo on November 16 cost them a shot at the national title and an outright Western Athletic Conference This was the fourth consecutive bowl appearance for Air Force, the previous three were victories. Unranked Texas tied for second in the Southwest Conference (SWC) but had lost to rival Texas A&M to end the regular season; it was their their ninth straight bowl appearance and first Bluebonnet Bowl in five years.
This Bluebonnet Bowl was the first at Rice Stadium since 1967; the previous seventeen editions were at the Astrodome. Nearly a dozen years earlier, Rice Stadium hosted Super Bowl VIII (January 1974).
The Falcons finished in the top ten in both major polls (fifth in Coaches, eighth in AP), which remains their highest ranking ever. Texas lost its fourth straight bowl and did not make a bowl game the following season and head coach Fred Akers was soon fired.