DALLAS (Ticker) -- David Page threw three touchdown passes to Chris Cunningham and ran for a score as Southern Methodist responded to an impending coaching change with a 37-20 Western Athletic Conference win over Rice.
SMU (4-6, 4-4 WAC) played one of its best games of the season just five days after the school dismissed coach Mike Cavan, effective at the end of the season.
The Mustangs, who close the season next week at North Carolina, fell behind 10-0 before roaring back with 13 points in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth.
Rice (8-4, 5-3), which is bowl eligible for the first time since 1997, failed in an attempt to win nine games for the first time since 1953, when it defeated Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.
Page threw a 23-yard TD pass to Cunningham early in the third quarter before Cody Cardwell scored on a two-yard run with 16 seconds left in the period to tie the game at 20-20.
Page put the Mustangs ahead to stay with an 18-yard TD pass to Cunningham with 12:07 left.
Jacob Crowley kicked a 34-yard field goal and Page capped the scoring with a seven-yard TD run. Page completed 16-of-30 passses for 245 yards.
Rice jumped to an early lead when linebacker Dan Dawson returned an interception 32 yards for a score and Derek Crabtree kicked a 32-yard field goal.
With five minutes left in the second quarter, Page threw a 22-yard TD pass to Cunningham, who caught five passes for 109 yards.
Rice answered with a 30-yard TD pass from Kyle Herm to Gilbert Okoronkwo.