FAQ: Military Bowl
The 2011 Military Bowl is just a day away. We're sure you have so many questions. We're here to help. (For an Xs and Os breakdown, check out Matt Dollinger's game preview.)
• What's all this, then? There are two military-centric bowl games in the college football postseason; this is the newer contest, not to be confused with Friday's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Formerly known as the EagleBank Bowl, which always sounded made-up, the game is now sponsored by a massive defense contractor and properly titled the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman.
• Where will this game be played? RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., longtime home of the Redskins before the advent of FedEx Field, and now home to MLS' D.C. United.
• When is it on television? Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, December 28. The game will be televised on ESPN.
• Whom does it feature? The ACC is currently the only permanent Military Bowl fixture; previous years have brought in teams from the MAC and Conference USA as well as Navy.
• What about this year? Not enough ACC teams finished with adequate records to fulfill all league tie-ins, but the bowl ended up better for it: 7-5 Air Force had a tough schedule for a Mountain West team, and lost games to teams that ran the gamut from surprisingly good (Wyoming) to typically awesome (Boise State). Toledo's schedule was also an arduous one; the 8-4 Rockets also fell to the Broncos, played Ohio State close and hard, and lost a memorable Tuesday-night shootout to eventual conference champ Northern Illinois. (It is perhaps best not to mention the Rockets' overtime defeat against Syracuse; we swear they're better than that game made them look.)
• Who will call the game? Pam Ward and Dan Hawkins, who'll have to recalibrate announcer senses attuned to the Big Ten to account for the defense-optional antics of the Falcons and Rockets. Jeannine Edwards will be on the sidelines.
• What wacky activities/mild indignities will bowl participants be subjected to over the course of the week? This being the Military Bowl, game week activities have a more serious nature. Last year's contest netted a six-figure donation to the USO, and players this year visited the Armed Forces Retirement Home and a local VA hospital. It was all very proper, until Monday, when this popped up in the agenda: "A full day with Air Force and Toledo touring the US Capitol before loosening things up when a hypnotist comes to entertain both teams!" We will pay handsomely, in the form of homemade baked goods, for exclusive video footage of players from either team clucking like chickens in a state of trance.
• Enough about the football. What about the loot? Players hoping to take home their very own Predator drones will be disappointed, but only slightly: Kindles and iPods await participating teams. Stay tuned for more postseason FAQ sheets, and stay on top of a hectic postseason slate with our complete 2011-2012 College Football Bowl Schedule.