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. SMU will be competing in the NCAA postseason for the second-straight year after posting a 45-10 win over Nevada at the 2009 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl to improve their bowl record to 5-6-1.
"We are very proud to be playing in a postseason bowl game for the second-straight season," said SMU Athletic Director Steve Orsini. "We are also very excited to be playing in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on our home field. This is a very unique opportunity that affords our fans the chance to cheer us on at Gerald J. Ford Stadium and will also provide a tremendous game day atmosphere for our student-athletes."
SMU finished the regular season with a 7-5 record and started the postseason by dropping a 17-7 decision to 25th-ranked UCF in the Conference USA championship game earlier today in Orlando. SMU captured the C-USA West Division with a 6-2 record as seven of the Mustangs' opponents this season earned bowl bids.
"We are very excited to host the Conference USA West Champions, SMU Mustangs," said bowl's executive director, Brant Ringler. "Coach Jones and his team's exciting brand of football will provide our fans with two contrasting styles of play when they take on the Army Black Knights at Ford Stadium."
Army is 6-5 and concludes the regular season by playing arch rival Navy next Saturday in Philadelphia. SMU faced Navy earlier this season with the Midshipmen posting a 28-21 win over the Mustangs in Annapolis and scoring all their points in the second half after trailing 14-0 at half-time.
With the Black Knights bowl-eligible for the first-time since 1996, all three service academies will be playing in the postseason this season with Navy and Air Force competing in the Poinsettia (December 23) and Independence (December 27) Bowls, respectively.
While Army has relied heavily on the running game in 2010 as the Black Knights rank 10th nationally in rushing per game (260.3), SMU's offense has been productive in both running and passing the football. The Mustangs entered Saturday's C-USA championship game by averaging 144.6 yards rushing, 278.3 yards passing and 28.5 points a game. Army is also averaging 28.5 points a game.
SMU sophomore running back Zach Line has rushed 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns this season while Mustang sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron has passed for 271.2 yards a game with a touchdown pass in every game this season for a total of 29 scoring plays. SMU senior Aldrick Robinson, the leading receiver in the conference with 60 regular-season catches, has caught 13 of Padron's touchdown passes.
In addition to playing in their home stadium, SMU will be the home team as the Conference USA representative where teams of that league have won two of their previous six appearances. Army will be the visiting team as the Black Knights enter this year's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl with a 2-2 post-season record with their last appearance being in 1996 at the Independence Bowl.
Army leads the series with SMU 2-0 after winning 14-13 in 1928 at West Point when the Mustangs were playing their first football game east of the Mississippi. The Black Knights also posted a 24-6 victory over the Mustangs at a 1967 meeting at Ownby Stadium on the campus of SMU where Gerald J. Ford Stadium was constructed with the first game in 2000.
While SMU is located in Texas and has played a majority of their 985 collegiate football games in the state, the 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be the 33rd intercollegiate football game for Army in the "Lone Star" state. Army has an 11-20-1 mark for contests played in Texas, including a total of six games when the Black Knights were a member of Conference USA. One of the Army Texas setbacks was a 29-28 decision to Alabama in the 1996 Sun Bowl in El Paso.
The 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be the 66th intercollegiate football game for SMU at Gerald J. Ford Stadium since the opening of the facility in 2000 when the Mustangs posted a 31-17 win over Kansas in the inaugural game on September 2. The Mustangs have a 29-36 record at Gerald Ford Stadium, including 1-5, 5-1 and 4-2 records the past three seasons under June Jones.
Owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), the past 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.
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."
SMU tickets are available by visiting the Mustang ticket office at the north end of Gerald J. Ford Stadium (214-768-4263 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 214-768-4263 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) or on-line at www.http://smumustangs.cstv.com/tickets/smu-tickets.html. Army team tickets for the 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl are available through the United States Military Academy ticket office (1-877-TIX-ARMY, 1-877-849-2769) or online at www.GoArmySports.com.
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl has featured a military theme since 2006 with patriotic overtones recognizing all five branches of the military throughout the game. Past Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls have included fan-fest areas showcasing military hardware; flyovers; demonstrations by several of the military's top skydiving teams; on-field induction ceremonies; military bands and honor guards; and the awarding of the annual "Great American Patriot Award" (GAPA) presented by Armed Forces Insurance. Admiral Thad Allen (Retired) will accept the 2010 GAPA award at halftime. For more information on the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, visit www.ArmedForcesBowl.com.
Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, joined the bowl on August 23, 2006 as the title sponsor of the postseason college football game formerly known as the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl (2003, 2004) and the Fort Worth Bowl (2005). The 2006 game marked the first year for the adoption of the "Armed Forces Bowl" name, making the official title the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Bell Helicopter has exercised its option for title sponsorship of the game twice. The current agreement was signed September 2009 to continue the sponsorship for the 2010 and 2011 games.