Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Game Notes

LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL TIDBITS

Circling the Bases

The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is the only collegiate football bowl game that has hosted all three U.S. Service Academy football teams. The U.S. Air Force Academy (2007-2009, 2012 and 2015), the U.S. Military Academy (2010) and the U.S. Naval Academy (2013, 2016) have all participated in the bowl. It is the eighth time in the past 10 years that an academy is playing in the contest.

 

Many Happy Returns

Navy is appearing in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl for the second time. The Midshipmen won the 2013 game, 24-6, over Middle Tennessee. Four teams have played in the bowl multiple times previously–Air Force (five), Houston (four), California (two) and Tulsa (two). Navy is the fifth to appear at least twice. Coach Ken Niumatalolo is the third coach to lead his team to mulitple Armed Forces Bowl games, joining Air Force’s Troy Calhoun (five) and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin (two).

 

Calling the Dogs

Louisiana Tech is competing in the Armed Forces Bowl for the first time. The Bulldogs are the 11th Conference USA representative in the game, the most by any league. It is the second bowl trip to the DFW Metroplex in the past three years, as the Bulldogs played in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl following the 2014 season. LA Tech is appearing in a bowl game for the third consecutive season, a program record.

 

You Play to Win the Game

The 17 combined wins between Navy (9) and LA Tech (8) are tied for the second most ever for foes entering the Armed Forces Bowl. The all-time bowl record is 23, set by Boise State (12) and TCU (11) in 2003. In 2009, the Houston (10) and Air Force (7) teams had 17 combined victories, as did the BYU (9) and Tulsa (8) squads in the 2011 game.

 

They’ve Played Big Games Before

Both Navy (American Athletic Conference) and Louisiana Tech (Conference USA) are coming off appearances in their respective conference championship games. The Midshipmen lost 34-10 to Temple, which is ranked 24th in the latest College Football Playoff ranking. The Bulldogs dropped a 58-44 shootout at Western Kentucky.

 

Something’s Gotta Give

Navy enters the 2016 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl riding a three-game bowl winning streak (2013-15), while Louisiana Tech has won two straight bowls (2014-15). Navy’s string began at the 2013 Armed Forces Bowl with a 24-6 win over Middle Tennessee and has continued at the 2014 Poinsettia Bowl (17-16 vs. San Diego State) and the 2015 Miltary Bowl (44-28 vs. Pittsburgh). LA Tech’s back-to-back bowl victories have come at the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2014 (35-18 vs. Illinois) and the New Orleans Bowl (47-28 vs. Arkansas State).

 

These Guys Can Coach

Both Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz were named their respective conference’s coach of the year in 2016. Niumatalolo won the honor in the American Athletic Conference, while Holtz was tabbed in Conference USA. In addition, Niumatalolo was tabbed as the American Football Coaches Association Region 1 Coach of the Year and is one of five finalists for the AFCA National Coach of the Year.

 

Home for the Holidays

Thus year’s game is being played before Christmas for the first time since 2006. The first four games were played on Dec. 23 before the game moved to post-Christmas until 2015.

 

Rank and File

The inaugural Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (2003) featured two nationally-ranked schools as both Boise State and TCU were listed among the top 25 teams in the BCS, AP and USA Today rankings. Both schools were ranked in the top 25 at the conclusion of the 2003-04 bowl season. BYU’s win in the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl gained the Cougars entrance into the final 2011-12 USA Today rankings. Navy is the third team to enter the game ranked (25th in final College Football Playoff).

Close Encounters for the Seventh Time?

Six of the 13 Armed Forces Bowl games have been decided by less than a touchdown, including a 35-34 victory by Houston over Pittsburgh that featured the largest fourth-quarter comeback in any bowl game ever (25 points).

 

Not-so-Familiar Surroundings

Navy has played twice at Amon G. Carter Stadium previously. The Mids suffered a 17-3 loss at TCU in 2003 and picked up a 24-6 win over Middle Tennessee in the 2013 Armed Forces Bowl. Despite being located just 289 miles from Fort Worth, LA Tech has never played at the stadium.

 

No-so-Familiar Foes

The two teams have met just twice previously all time, and Navy owns a 2-0 record against Louisiana Tech. The Midshipmen grabbed a 32-14 win in Annapolis, Md., in 2009 and followed it up with a 37-23 victory a year later in Ruston, La.

 

Accommodating to Visitors

The school designated as the home team has won five of the 13 games, including Boise State (2003), Cincinnati (2004), Utah (2006), Air Force (2009) and Houston (2015). Despite playing on its home turf and using its own locker room, TCU was the visiting team for the inaugural Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

 

Able to Stay in Pajamas Later

The 3:30 p.m. start is the game’s latest kickoff since 2006. The first four contests were played after 5:30 p.m., while none of the next nine started after 1 p.m.

 

Home and Visitor

Navy is designated as the home team in this year’s game. The Mids will be using the east sideline and the south end zone locker room. Louisiana Tech will be the visitors, meaning that the Bulldogs will be located on the west sideline and the northwest corner locker room.

 

Weather It Matters

The average temperature over the 13 previous Armed Forces Bowls has been 46 degrees. Two games have been played in better than 60 degrees, topped by the 2005 game between Kansas and Houston (67 degrees). The coldest game was played in 2004, when Cincinnati and Marshall played in 28-degree conditions with a wind chill of 15.

 

Looking for 10 Wins

Navy has nine wins heading into the bowl game. The Midshipmen are looking to become the fifth team to finish their Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl sesason with double-digt wins. Previous teams include: Boise State in 2003 (13-1), TCU in 2003 (11-2), Houston in 2009 (10-4) and BYU in 2011 (10-3)

 

Feels a Little NFL Drafty Here

A total of 63 players that have participated in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl since the inaugural game in 2003 have been selected over the last 13 NFL Drafts. Led by the California Golden Bears (16), 15 schools that have participated in the Armed Forces Bowl have had players drafted. Only Air Force and Army have not had players drafted. Five former Armed Forces Bowl participants were NFL first-round picks, highlighted by Cal quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Rans in 2016. Other former first-rounders include: Kansas defensive back Aqib Talib (2008 draft), Cal center Alex Mack (2009), Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (2010) and BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (2013).

 

Starting off Right

The team that has won the coin toss has won four of the last five games. Overall, the school that won the flip is 8-5.

 

Mayor Price is Right

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price proclaimed Dec. 19-23, 2016, as Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Week to celebrate the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Lockheed Martin and the invaluable contributions it makes to veterans and the Fort Worth community.

 

Fighting Spirit Scholarships

Retired U.S. Army Capt. Ferris Butler and retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Adam Keys are the recipients of Lockheed Martin’s inaugural Fighting Spirit Scholarship for wounded veterans. The scholarship provides wounded veterans opportunities to learn to fly and sail through programs at nonprofit organizations Able Flight and Warrior Sailing Program.

Able Flight selected Butler, a Chester, Md., resident who sustained severe lower leg injuries in Iraq in 2006 when struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). Butler, a double amputee, is the recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.

Warrior Sailing Program selected Keys, an Annapolis, Maryland resident injured in Afghanistan in 2010 after an IED detonated near his patrol vehicle. Keys, a triple amputee, is the recipient of the Purple Heart.