FORT WORTH, Texas - Two football programs boasting storied histories will square off on the gridiron for the first time in more than 40 years when Army battles SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Army, which accepted its first postseason bowl bid since 1996 earlier in the week, learned its opponent for the game Saturday afternoon after SMU accepted an invitation to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl following its 17-7 loss to UCF in the Conference USA Championship game. SMU captured C-USA's West Division title by posting a 6-2 league mark. The Mustangs stand 7-6 overall. Seven of their opponents earned bowl bids this season.
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will pit one of the nation's most prolific rushing offenses, Army's triple-option attack, opposite one of the country's most dynamic passing systems, SMU's high-octane run-and-shoot scheme.
Army enters its regular-season finale against Navy with a 6-5 record, the program's highest win total since the 1996 squad went 10-2. The Black Knights boast the 10th-ranked rushing offense in the nation (260.27 yds/game) led by sophomore FB Jared Hassin. Hassin ranks 54th nationally, averaging 80.09 yards per contest. The Black Knights' defense ranks 26th in the country, giving up 332.64 yards per game. Senior DE Josh McNary, Army's all-time leader in sacks, is tied for ninth in the country with 0.86 sacks per game.
SMU is led by bruising running back Zach Line, who has run for 1,391 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, and talented quarterback Kyle Padron, who is averaging 271.2 passing yards per contest. Dangerous wideout Aldrick Robinson tops Conference USA with 60 receptions and has hauled in 13 touchdown passes.
In addition to playing in its home stadium, SMU will serve as the home team as the Conference USA representative where teams of that league have won two of their previous six appearances. Army will serve as the visiting team in the game.
Army has captured both of its previous meetings with SMU, winning 14-13 in 1928 at West Point, and 24-6 in Dallas in 1967.
The Black Knights are 2-2 in four previous bowl appearances. Army made its postseason debut with a 10-6 victory over Michigan State in the 1984 Cherry Bowl (Pontiac, Mich.), and followed that with a 31-29 win against Illinois in the 1985 Peach Bowl (Atlanta, Ga.). The Black Knights have lost their last two bowl appearances by a total of four points, falling 29-28 to Alabama in the 1988 Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas) and 32-29 versus Auburn in the 1996 Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.).
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl has featured a military theme since 2006 with patriotic overtones recognizing all five branches of the military throughout the game. Past Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls have included fan-fest areas showcasing military hardware; flyovers; demonstrations by several of the military's top skydiving teams; on-field induction ceremonies; military bands and honor guards; and the awarding of the annual "Great American Patriot Award" (GAPA) presented by Armed Forces Insurance. Admiral Thad Allen (Retired) will accept the 2010 GAPA award at halftime. For more information on the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, visit www.ArmedForcesBowl.com.
Tickets for the game are $40, and can be purchased on-line at www.goARMYsports.com, at the Army Ticket Office or by calling 1-877-TIX-ARMY. The Army Athletic Association would like to stress the importance of Black Knight fans purchasing their tickets through the West Point allotment. Not only does it guarantee a seat in the Army section with other Black Knights supporters, but also helps Army maximize the full benefit of playing in a postseason game. In addition, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl declared that its tickets have been sold out leaving only the two participating schools' allotments available.
Loyal members of the Army "A" Club, donors who purchase bowl tickets will receive an additional priority point for every seat they buy. All benefits associated with "A" Club membership are assigned or allocated, based upon availability, using the Priority Point Program. Army-Navy Game tickets, bowl tickets, and parking lot assignments are allocated using priority points. Every "A" Club member requesting tickets or eligible for parking will be sequenced in descending order of priority points and assigned the respective benefit.
Those fans who can't make it to the bowl game, but still want to support the program have the opportunity to purchase tickets and then donate them to a West Point cadet or an enlisted Army soldier from a local post. Fans who donate their tickets will still receive their additional priority points.
Larger blocks of tickets are also available with the added benefit of receiving a discounted rate. For $5,000, a block of 150 tickets can be bought, a savings of $1,000. A 325-ticket allotment can be purchased for $10,000 for a savings of $3,000. Blocks can be designated for use by either West Point cadets, or soldiers local to the area, if desired. Members of the "A" Club will receive the appropriate priority points for these bulk purchases as well.
Those purchasing a group of 25 or more tickets at face value will receive a pair of tickets for Army's showdown with Rutgers at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 12, 2011.
"We are thrilled to have the United States Military Academy playing in the 2010 game," said Brant B. Ringler, executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. "What better way of continuing to honor our past and present U.S. service members than with a service academy competing in our game. We fully expect Army fans and our numerous supporters of the military community to carry on the tradition of maximizing our bowl's stadium capacity."