In an unexpected turn of events, the Mountain West Conference traded its bowl bid to play in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to Conference USA this season, setting up a surprising Armed Forces Bowl showdown between the Naval Academy Midshipmen and the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. It will be the first ever meeting between to the two teams.
If you like throwback football, this will be the game for you, featuring lots and lots of running. Both teams boast top-level rushing attacks, with Navy ranked seventh in the country in rushing offense and MTSU clocking in at 28th. That doesn’t mean these teams won’t score though. Navy scores 34.4 points per game and MTSU scores 30.9, putting them both near the top of the leaderboard. And, both teams struggle defensively, giving up more than 26 points per game each.
MTSU enters this game riding a 5-game winning streak, which helped them compete for a shot at the Conference USA title. But, their time ran out as they finish at 8-4, one game behind Marshall, and tied for 2nd place in their first season in Conference USA.
The Blue Raiders are led by sophomore linebacker T.T. Barber on defense and a group of balanced offensive players, including senior quarterback Logan Kilgore, who passed for 2,289 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. This is Middle Tennessee State’s first bowl bid since 2010.
Navy earned their bid to the Armed Forces Bowl back on Dec. 22, when they defeated San Jose State 58-52, marking their sixth win of the season to become bowl eligible. Sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds who gained 2,152 yards of total offense and 34 touchdowns on the season leads Navy’s triple-option attack, while their defense was led by linebacker D.J. Sargenti.
For the Midshipmen, this will be their first ever trip to the Armed Forces Bowl, which has already been hosted by the other two military academies, the U.S. Military Academy (2010) and the U.S. Air Force Academy (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012).
This year’s game will mark the eighth consecutive year that First Command has been a major sponsor of the Armed Forces Bowl, the only collegiate bowl game that celebrates all five branches of America’s military. The company’s sponsorship supports many popular elements of the event, including the ability to send 250 wounded warriors to view the game with transportation provided.
Game at a Glance:
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-4) vs Navy Midshipmen (7-4)
Time: 10:45 a.m. Central Time, Monday, December 30, 2013
Place: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
TV/Radio: ESPN TV, ESPN Radio, American Forces Network
Tickets: Find ticket information at www.armedforcesbowl.com or call (817) 810-0012
Web site: www.armedforcesbowl.com