FORT WORTH, TEXAS, November 30, 2010 – For the fourth straight year, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will feature a service academy in its post-season game as the United States Military Academy has accepted a bid to play in the 2010 contest at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas on December 30 against an unnamed Conference USA opponent.
As the official bowl game that honors all branches of the United States armed forces, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will air at 11 a.m. (CST) on ESPN and ESPN Radio. Owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, the last three Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls featured the United States Air Force Academy as the Falcons played Cal of the Pac-10 in 2007 and Houston of Conference USA in 2008 and 2009.
“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.”
The 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be the Army Black Knights’ first postseason appearance since 1996, when Army dropped a 32-29 decision to Auburn in the Independence Bowl on December 31 in Shreveport, La. The United States Military Academy will be competing in its fifth bowl game in school history; Army split its first four bowl appearances.
Army positioned itself to play in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl after signing an agreement with ESPN last April that allowed the Black Knights to accept a berth if they became bowl eligible prior to playing their last regular-season game against the United States Naval Academy, as well as if one of the two scheduled conferences (Conference USA or the Mountain West Conference) had an opening amongst its contractual bowl commitments.
With TCU earning a berth in the Bowl Championship Series configuration after winning 66-17 at New Mexico Saturday, Nov. 27, to finish with a 12-0 regular-season record, the Mountain West Conference has four other schools (Utah, 10-2; San Diego State, 8-4; Air Force, 8-4; and BYU, 6-6) to fill the league’s five guaranteed bowl berths (Las Vegas, San Diego, Shreveport, Albuquerque and Dallas-Fort Worth).
Army became bowl eligible November 13 when the Black Knights posted a 45-28 win at Kent State for their sixth win under head coach Rich Ellerson. The Cadets missed qualifying for a bowl last season after finishing with a 5-7 record in Ellerson’s first year at West Point. Three of Army’s five defeats this year have been by a touchdown or less and five of its 12 opponents this season are bowl eligible.
“West Point is proud and excited to accept an invitation to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl,” said United States Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David Huntoon. “We have a great football team of players and coaches who have played with head, heart and character, helping Army return to a postseason bowl game for the first time since 1996. We are especially honored to participate in a bowl game that honors our men and women in uniform. We know we’ll have a strong following from our Soldiers and their families from Fort Hood as well as from other military installations in the state of Texas, and we’re thrilled they will have an opportunity to see the Army team in action.”
Army head coach Rich Ellerson said the Black Knights were “excited about representing the United States Military Academy and the U.S. Army in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. "This is an especially appropriate venue for our return to post season play. We take great pride in the values and traditions of West Point; the Armed Forces Bowl presents a tremendous opportunity to showcase them to the entire nation. This represents a milestone for our program that our players and coaches have worked extremely hard to make happen."
Led by sophomore fullback Jared Hassin, Army ranks 10th among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools in rushing as the Black Knights have amassed 260.3 yards rushing a game with 33 touchdowns in their first 11 games this season. The Cadets finish the regular season Saturday, Dec. 11 against Navy at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
Hassin has rushed for 881 yards and nine touchdowns this season with four games of more than 100 yards. He had 114 yards in 17 carries against Air Force Saturday, Nov. 6 when the Cadets dropped a 42-22 decision at West Point to Air Force. Hassin, who also caught 11 passes for 144 yards, needs 121 yards rushing against Navy to be the top ground gainer among the three military academies this season.
In addition to playing a postseason game in Shreveport, Army has played in bowl games in Detroit (1984 Cherry Bowl by defeating Michigan State 10-6), Atlanta (1985 Peach Bowl by defeating Illinois 31-29) and El Paso (1988 Sun Bowl by losing 29-28 to Alabama).
The 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl was “officially declared a sellout” last week with just standing room only tickets being sold for the game, according to Ringler, who added that the pre-event ticket sales “shows the tremendous excitement within the Dallas-Fort Worth community this year to support the game in honor of the men and women of the United States armed forces.” Army team tickets are available through the United States Military Academy ticket office at 1-877-TIX-ARMY (1-877-849-2769) or online at www.GoArmySports.com.