2015 Armed Forces Bowl schedule and coverage: Houston vs. Pitt
Last year’s game got ugly and chippy.
The Armed Forces Bowl is usually a lot of fun, especially when one of the nation’s service academies are taking on a mid-major from Conference USA or the Mountain West. Last year, though, things got ugly. This year, we’ll see one Group of Five team and one Power Five team when Houston takes on Pittsburgh
Last year Navy cruised to a 24-6 win over Middle Tennessee State, but the game got out of hand. From last year’s recap:
It was a chippy game, with multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, a targeting ejection, an ugly incident in which a Blue Raiders player attempted to stick his fingers inside Reynolds’ facemask, and a nasty collision just before the end of the first half that left players from both teams down on the field. Much of the dirtiness of the game fell on the side of Middle Tennessee State, which saw Roderic Blunt (the aforementioned finger-jammer) ejected after two unsportsmanlike penalties.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail this time around. Here’s all you need to know about this year’s game:
Date and time, ET: Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, noon ET
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Forth Worth, Texas
Stadium: Amon G. Carter Stadium, 50,000
Last year’s attendance: 39,246
Last year’s TV rating: 2.4
Last year’s payout for each school: $1.2 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: Air Force, 4
Team with the most all-time wins: Eleven teams have won the game once.
Houston Cougars (7-5, 5-3 American)
The days of Case Keenum seem like ancient history in Houston. The Cougars beat everyone they were supposed to (except for UTSA, but we’ll let that one slide) on their schedule and upset conference leaders Memphis back in October for their marquee win. Needing one win to reach bowl eligibility at the end of November, Houston rolled over Tulsa and SMU before losing to Cincinnati by a touchdown to end the year. Houston has gone 5-2 since switching quarterbacks after the loss to UCF at the beginning of October. Sophomore Greg Ward Jr. took over the starting job from John O’Korn and threw for 1,376 yards and seven touchdowns in seven starts. Ward also brings a running threat to the offense to the tune of 397 yards and five scores. Tailback Kenneth Farrow paced the Cougars rushing attack with 796 and 11 trips to the end zone.
Last bowl game: 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl vs. Vanderbilt, 41-24 loss
All-time bowl record: 9-11-1
Head coach’s bowl record: Tony Levine, 1-1 (though he is likely to be fired)
Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6, 4-4 ACC)
It was hardly a classic season for the Pitt Panthers. They won three in a row, and then lost three in a row two different times. They showed flashes of being pretty good, but were never really able to string anything together for too long. They did manage to become bowl eligible with two wins over Syracuse and Miami to end the year, but I doubt anyone will look back on 2014 with much to say.
The one exception to that is running back James Conner. The sophomore rushed for 1,675 yards and 24 touchdowns, and was the one constant in Pitt’s offensive attack. Anyone who plays Pitt in a bowl game will have to reckon with Conner in order to have a chance.
Last bowl game: 2013 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl vs. Bowling Green, 30-27 win
All-time bowl record: 13-17
Head coach’s bowl record: Paul Chryst, 1-1