West Virginia and Texas A&M will head to Memphis in the next few weeks to begin preparing for the game and go head-to-head in a battle that both head coaches believe is a matchup and bowl partnership that is great for both conferences.
“It’s a great location for both conferences,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen during a press conference in Memphis for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. “We’re right in the middle of SEC country, but you’re not too far off from Big 12 country with West Virginia kind of right there too.
“It’s a great fit for both conferences, there are a lot of great places to go out and visit. These are two fantastic conferences that are pretty familiar with each other.”
That’s one of the biggest perks of the game – the fact that it’s not unreasonably far away for either of the fan bases to travel and make it to the game to support their schools.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Lucks believes it’s a game where – as they have usually done for just about every bowl game in recent memory – Mountaineer fans will be out in full force in Memphis at the end of December.
“We’re delighted to go to Memphis. It’s a beautiful city and within driving distance for a lot of our fan base,” Luck said. “Historically, we’ve traveled pretty well. I don’t think it will be like the number we saw for the game against Alabama in the Georgia Dome where I think we sold our full 25,000-ticket allotment. Memphis is probably a closer drive for a good portion of the state, so I do think you’ll see plenty of Mountaineer traffic in Memphis.”
The two teams will head to Tennessee for the game on Dec. 26 to start the final stretch of their bowl preparations. Both Holgorsen and Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin are excited to go through the time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game for multiple reasons, but especially because it gives the two teams an opportunity to rest up and get healthy after going through the grind of the brutal seasons they have to go through in the Big 12 and SEC each season.
“We’ve taken a week or so off from practice,” Sumlin said. “The calendar has changed a little bit since a couple years ago. There aren’t as many practices as we used to have.”