The Armed Forces Bowl is sponsored by Bell Helicopter, as it tries to lock up the important "college football fan who owns a helicopter or is in the market for one" demographic. The game has a rotating (not unlike a helicopter) tie-in, with the AAC, Big Ten, Mountain West and Big 12 sending representatives, and Army fitting in there every once in a while. This year, the Naval Academy was supposed to face off against a Mountain West representative, but C-USA's evidently made a trade.
Date and time, ET: Dec. 30 at 11:45 a.m.
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Stadium: Amon G. Carter Stadium -- capacity 45,000
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: Rice 33, Air Force 14
Last year's attendance: 40,754
Last year's TV rating: 2.6
Last year's payout for each school: $600,000
Team with the most all-time appearances: Air Force (1-3)
Team with the most all-time wins: Ten different schools tied with one
Keenan Reynolds is the centerpiece of Navy’s triple-option attack -- with 2,152 yards of total offense and 34 touchdowns on the ground and through the air this season, the sophomore quarterback is responsible for nearly half of the Midshipmen’s yardage and, one way or another, nearly all of their points. With the longer preparation time that the bowl layoff allows, though, the advantage of the triple option is mitigated somewhat -- Navy is 1-5 in their last six bowl games. It will be interesting to see how Ken Niumatololo adjusts.
With only 10 sacks on the year, Navy also had one of the worst pass rushes in college football, and they’ll likely need more disruption if they are to emerge victorious in this one. Three different Midshipmen tied for the team lead with two. The impeccably named D.J. Sargenti leads the Navy defense from the linebacker position with 97 tackles (6.0 for loss).
Last bowl game: 2012 Fight Hunger Bowl vs. Arizona State, 62-28 loss
Last year without a bowl: 2011
All-time bowl record: 7-10-1
Head coach's bowl record: Ken Niumatalolo, 1-4
Middle Tennessee State (8-4, 6-2 C-USA)
A new conference was not a problem for the Blue Raiders, who had a fantastic end stretch to the season to bring themselves into contention for the C-USA East title. Alas, a poor start to conference play did them in, as they were unable to catch up with Marshall or East Carolina.
Middle Tennessee State lost two of their first three C-USA games, with an overtime win over Florida Atlantic offset by losses to East Carolina and North Texas, but the Blue Raiders finished the season with five straight wins -- a streak that started with a dramatic win over Marshall.
MTSU sports a strong, balanced rushing attack, with four different players averaging at least 50 yards per game, but the star of the show is sophomore linebacker T.T. Barber. Barber had a team-high 112 tackles during the regular season, with 10.5 for a loss, three sacks, two fumbles forced and three interceptions (with one returned for a touchdown).
Last bowl game: 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl vs. Miami (Ohio), 35-21 loss
All-time bowl record: 2-3
Head coach's bowl record: Rick Stockstill, 1-2