In the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the bad guy says to Indiana Jones as he points to the Ark of The Covenant, "Indy, we are only passing through history...this IS history."
And so it is with this Texas-Rice football series.
It began 90 years ago, when Rice, playing in only its third football season, lost to a Texas team that included six players who would enter the Longhorn Hall of Honor after it was started more than 40 years later.
They were legendary names, folks like Louis Jordan, the team captain, and Gen. K. L. Berry, Pig Dittmar and Clyde Littlefield. And that was only the beginning.
A year later, Rice and Texas met on October 16, 1915, in the Longhorns' first game in a new league alignment called the Southwest Conference. For 82 years, from that beginning season in 1914 through 1995, the two schools played every year. In its time, it was longest continuous streak of any Longhorn opponent.
Texas controlled the series in the early years, but the fledgling Owls did post a notable win in 1924 under their new coach, a guy named John W. Heisman (for whom the famous trophy is named). But beginning in 1930, the series between the university on South Main in Houston and the guys from the Forty Acres in Austin was second only to Texas A&M as the Longhorns' biggest rivalry until the mid 1960s.
In 1937, Texas hired D. X. Bible, and Rice followed in 1940 with the hiring of Jess Neely. Heisman not withstanding, the two coaches brought credibility and respectability to both the game and the coaching profession that was unsurpassed.
From 1930 through Neely's final win over Texas in 1965, Rice actually held the edge in the series, 18-17-1. In 1957, Darrell Royal took the Texas job, and he would go on to become the fourth member of the prestigious College Football Hall of Fame to coach in the series.
Royal was the winningest coach in Southwest Conference history. Neely finished tied for second in a career that spanned 26 years.
For years, the Rice-Texas game was the social event of the football season, and when the Owls opened their state-of-the-art stadium in the mid-1950s, it was usually packed with 70,000 folks for the meeting with Texas.
The series also took on an unusual quality. From 1954 until the Longhorns snapped the string with a victory in Houston in 1964 and Rice returned the favor by winning in Austin in 1965, the home team won. The only exception was a 14-14 tie in 1962, when a heavy underdog Rice team knocked Texas from its spot as the No. 1 team in the nation. Otherwise, Rice won in Houston, and Texas won in Austin.
But beginning with Neely's final season of 1966, Texas reeled off 28 straight victories until Rice ended the streak on a rainy Sunday night in Houston in 1994.
When the final SWC season ended in 1995, Rice was the first former league member that Texas scheduled, with a three game series from 1997 through 1999, and now a three game series which began last year.
There is a particular irony in this series for Longhorn coach Mack Brown. In recent times, his brother, Watson, served as the head coach at Rice. But his connection with the series goes back even farther.
When Mack was coming out of high school in Cookeville, Tenn., he had originally dreamt of playing at Alabama. But Watson was playing at Vanderbilt. And when Mack took his visit to Nashville, the guy who had the biggest influence on his decision was the Vandy Athletics Director.
He was a white-haired old gentleman with an unmistakable southern drawl. His name was Jess Neely.
Things have changed a lot since these two were the kingpins of the Southwest Conference. They play in different leagues, and to a large extent, with different aspirations.
What hasn't changed is the profile of the two universities, and the commitment of today's coaches. Rice and Texas rank proudly as two of the finest academic institutions in the country, and their commitment to excellence has never wavered.
Mack Brown and the Owls' coach, Ken Hatfield, are both committed to the same values of the game, and of the importance of student athletes, that their legendary predecessors were.
In 1962, in a speech at Rice Stadium, President Kennedy was talking about America's race against the Russians for pre-eminence in space.
"Why do we want to put a man on the moon?" he asked in that famous New England accent. And then he surveyed the crowd and simply said, "Why does Rice play Texas?"
The sudden switch to sports surprised the huge crowd, which included most of the student body of what was then called The Rice Institute, with a student population barely a tenth of the big university in Austin. And then he answered his own question.
"To achieve higher things."
That said far more than it seemed.
That is why Mack Brown and Ken Hatfield are proud of the young people whom they coach, and why both of these schools walk proudly among the nation's elite universities.
They are driven by the higher purpose that Brown refers to when he says, "we're in the education business during the week and the entertainment business on the weekend." With a stated goal of "winning championships with nice kids who graduate."
Because long after the entertaining ends, the education will be the lynchpin of the future, where you pass through history, to history.