The Owls had been to three previous Cotton Bowl Classics, with two in the decade. The Owls had finished 1st in the Southwest Conference for the fourth time in 11 years. This was Navy's first Cotton Bowl Classic. This was the only bowl game that matched two top 10 teams in the AP Poll. This was the first Cotton Bowl Classic broadcast on CBS.
Rice never recovered after Navy led 13-0 at halftime on Joe Tranchini and Harry Hurst touchdown runs. Ned Oldham added in his own touchdown early in the third quarter to give Navy a 20-0 lead. Ken Williams caught a touchdown pass from Frank Ryan to narrow the lead to 13, but Rice never seriously threatened from that point on, most likely due to Navy's 222 yards rushing (compared to Rice's 137) combined Forrestal's 13 for 24 for 153 yard performance and Rice's six turnovers. Forrestal and Ryan both had 13 completions, which set a Cotton Bowl record. 
Rice would not win another conference championship until 1994 and not win a bowl game until 2008. They have not reached the Cotton Bowl ever since this game. Navy would reach the Cotton Bowl six years later but have not won the Cotton Bowl Classic since this game nor appeared since 1964.