Air Force selected for Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 7, 2008
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Air Force has been selected to play in the 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 11 a.m. Central time. The Falcons will take on Houston from Conference-USA.
This marks the second straight year that Air Force has been selected for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, as the Falcons played California from the Pac-10 last season. This season's bowl is the 19th in Air Force history and the Falcons have posted an 8-9-1 overall mark. Air Force's last bowl win came in 2000 at the Silicon Valley Bowl against Fresno State, 37-34.
This year's game against Houston is a rematch from earlier this season, when the two teams played in Dallas on Sept. 13. Air Force won the game, 31-28, in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Houston, but was moved to Dallas due to weather.
Air Force will be playing in the same bowl game in consecutive years for the third time. The Falcons played in the Independence Bowl in 1983 and 1984 and the Liberty Bowl from 1989 to 1992. This season also marks the first time that Air Force has played a regular season game and bowl game in the same stadium in back-to-back games. The Falcons concluded the 2008 regular season at Amon G. Carter Stadium against TCU, losing 44-10. Air Force is 0-5 in Fort Worth all-time, losing at TCU in 1989, 1998, 2006 and 2008 and dropping the bowl game last year.
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Dr. Hans Mueh, Air Force Athletic Director: ""We are honored to be invited back,"
Tom Starr, Executive Director the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: ""Dr. Mueh, you made a lot of Falcon fans in this area and a lot of people are excited you are coming back."
Mueh: ""Houston is a great football team. Even though the two teams played in the regular season, it is a game that maybe 500 people saw because of the conditions and circumstances (Hurricane Ike). But for our fans it will be the first time they will see this game."
Mueh: ""We already have 1,500 ticket commitments. We expect at least the same or better as last year and that is before we have advertised to sell tickets." Starr: "We wanted Air Force all the way, but the conference office wanted us to wait for Utah and the BCS."
Mueh: ""We are excited to come back and have a big crowd. We are fine with the matchup. It was my hope that we would be back because of our experience last year. We are very interested in returning."
Starr: ""We looked at all angles, but we never had any reservations about a rematch. We are tickled with it. Other than Air Force being a great team and institution, it fits in to what we are doing with honoring our men and women in uniform."
Head Coach Troy Calhoun on going to the Armed Forces Bowl: ""You absolutely love it. Any time you get to see Tom Starr in December it is a great thing. The tremendous experience we had last year and the opportunity to play in a great city and extremely classy bowl. It is something we are looking forward to.
Calhoun on playing Houston:" "Houston is a very talented team and one that proved to be a team that had significant wins. We are delighted to have the opportunity. When you play in a bowl game you pleased now matter the opponent. You just never get to picky. At the Air Force Academy we'll play anybody. If we could go 10 straight years we would be very, very pleased. The Dallas Fort Worth area is an extreme fertile recruiting ground for us. We have a number of key players from that area."
Calhoun on injuries:" "We have some guys that missed practice. Todd Newell has an ankle. Kyle Halderman will be out about three weeks with mono. Patrick Hennessey has a shoulder. By the time we get to Fort Worth we should be a pretty healthy squad. Spencer Armstrong practiced yesterday and looked pretty good.
Calhoun on playing Houston: ""They are a completely different team than they were when we played them last. They are an explosive team. But I think we are a different team to a degree too. The biggest difference is that everything they had to experience that week as well as play a football game. That is a test to the resiliency of their squad. You have to earn a postseason game and our guys did earn it and it will be a neat experience for the cadets."
Senior kicker/punter Ryan Harrison (Keller, TX):" "I am excited to go back and play in Fort Worth and in the Armed Forces Bowl. We had a great experience last year and I'm excited to go again. The familiarity of the area and the bowl itself makes it nice. I think it will be pretty cool to play Houston. The first time was an adverse situation. They didn't play in their own stadium. It probably helps us in the end and will be fun playing them again."
Senior quarterback Shea Smith (Odessa, TX):" "I have no reservations at all (playing in the Armed Forces Bowl again). Heck, I'm a senior. I just want to play. I don't care who the opponent. Let's just go play. The bowl was great to us last year and I look forward to doing it again. The most important thing we need to do against Houston is to take care of the ball, not turn it over. We have to be able to run the ball and control the clock. That helped us last time." Note: Shea Smith was the starting quarterback in Air Force's 31-28 win over Houston on Sept. 13 in Dallas.
Junior offensive guard Nick Charles (San Antonio, TX):" "Last year, the Armed Forces Bowl committee did a fantastic job of making us feel at home and we had a great time experiencing neat things and playing in a great game. The game we played against Houston went back and forth. I feel they will come out on fire and it will be a great game for everyone to enjoy in Texas. Playing against those guys, they take winning very seriously. They were very upset that we won and with the weather and everything. They are big time competitors."
Sophomore cornerback/returner Reggie Rembert (Flower Mound, TX): "I like playing against passing offenses because I can be a lot more active. I look forward to the challenge to cover some great receivers. It's great going to another bowl and especially when a lot over people thought we might win three games and we have such a young team."