BYU formally accepted an invitation to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, as per an agreement reached in April. Arkansas State, after clinching the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic bowl bid, has accepted a spot in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
“We are pleased to officially extend this invitation to BYU,” said Brant B. Ringler, executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. “Our goal is always to attract schools with a national presence to help us honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, and BYU is a great fit as it is a nationally-recognized institution with an outstanding fan base.”
BYU became bowl eligible this weekend with a 56-3 win against Idaho State. While winning six games is normally the requirement to become bowl eligible, BYU was required to win seven games because of a road game played at Hawaii. All opponents who play at Hawaii are required by the NCAA to win seven games. BYU has played in one previous bowl game in Texas, winning the 1997 Cotton Bowl against Kansas State (19-15) to finish the season ranked fifth in the nation. The Armed Forces Bowl is played in Ford Stadium, home of the SMU football team. The game is typically played at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium but while renovations are ongoing on TCU’s stadium the bowl game will play the second straight game on SMU’s campus. It is expected to return to TCU in 2012.
BYU will face a team from Conference USA, with Tulsa and Southern Methodist appearing to be the most likely opponents. The Armed Forces Bowl usually receives the third pick of Conference USA teams. The Liberty Bowl gets the first pick and that would appear to be Houston, if they are not invited to a BCS bowl. The Hawaii Bowl has the second pick and that would probably mean picking the Conference USA runner-up, which could be Southern Mississippi.
Arkansas State is currently 8-2 this season and will be playing in their second bowl game in school history. Head coach Hugh Freeze is even beginning to receive some consideration in the coach of the year discussion after already winning twice as many games as Arkansas State did a season ago. Arkansas State’s eight wins is already the most wins in school history since going 11-0 in 1975 and winning the Southland Conference with a 5-0 conference record. The Red Wolves lost the 2005 New Orleans Bowl.
“I am extremely proud of this football team for what we have accomplished this season,” said Freeze. “To come here and grab a share of the conference title on the road was very tough and we are very appreciative of the many fans who made the trip over here to support us. We are also very happy to accept an invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl. It’s a great reward for this program and our fans, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We realize we still have one game left in the regular season and we want to finish strong at home when Troy comes to town in two weeks.”
Freeze accepted the invitation to the bowl game in the locker room following Arkansas State’s win against Middle Tennessee, which clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference and guaranteed them the conference’s automatic bid. Arkansas State will meet a team from the MAC, likely to be the MAC champions. Right now, Northern Illinois looks to be the favorite to be Arkansas State’s opponent.
For the first time under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, Navy will be staying home this postseason. The Midshipmen failed to keep their bowl hopes alive this weekend with a 27-24 loss at San Jose State. Navy needed to win all of their remaining games in order to clinch bowl eligibility. With no margin for error, a San Jose State touchdown with four seconds remaining in the game squashed any postseason plans Navy had been accustomed to making over the past decade.
It means that the Army-Navy Game will be the final college football game for the two service academies.
Air Force needs to win one of their final two games to become bowl eligible. The Falcons have played in the postseason four consecutive years. Navy was set to play in the Military Bowl if they were bowl eligible. Navy’s vacancy could be filled by Air Force by the Washington D.C. based bowl game.
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