SMU set to take on Army in Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Who will win the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30?
This week, head Coach June Jones and the SMU Mustangs football team (7-6) accepted a bid to play in the DFW Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against the United States Military Academy on Dec. 30. This is the Mustangs' second bowl game in two years after a previous 25 year drought. Usually, the game is played in Fort Worth at Texas Christian University's Amon G. Carter Stadium, but due to renovations by TCU, the game is being played in SMU's 35,000 seat Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
The Armed Forces Bowl was set to pair a team from the Conference-USA versus a team from the Mountain West Conference. Since the Mountain West did not have enough bowl eligible teams, the Army Academy, a conference independent, was extended an invitation to participate. Likewise, SMU accepted their invitation to play following the disappointing 17-7 conference championship loss to the University of Central Florida last Saturday in Orlando.
SMU experienced a rollercoaster-like season. The Mustangs started 2-2 following a one possession loss to Texas Tech and an emotional loss to the number three team in the nation, TCU. By mid-October however, SMU seemed to be on a roll after rival Rice and conference foe Tulsa.
Despite the momentum, SMU struggled to start the second half of the season. An embarrassing homecoming loss to Houston, a blown lead against Navy and an unexpected loss to an average UTEP team left Jones and the rest of the Mustang faithful wondering if SMU would even reach the postseason.
After their trip to El Paso, the Ponies rediscovered their winning ways, dismantling Marshall at home and winning a gritty game against Eastern division power East Carolina. With help from other schools, SMU found their way to the conference championship game against a physical UCF team. Quarterback Kyle Padron and the offense struggled to find the end zone until late, and the Mustangs were forced to come home with the title of conference runner up.
Padron has tossed 29 touchdowns and an impressive 3,526 passing yards. Fellow sophomore, running back Zach Line, entered the season regarded as a short yardage back. However, he has excelled this year rushing for 1,391 yards which ranks 11th in the entire NCAA. The receiving tandem of Alderick Robinson and Cole Beasley are Padron's favorite targets and have caught a combined total of 19 touchdown passes.
Defensively, SMU gives up an average of 26 points per game. Linebacker Taylor Reed leads the team with 133 total tackles. Reed is followed by fellow middle linebacker Pete Fleps with 113 tackles of his own. SMU will face an Army team that is reaching their first bowl berth in over two decades. The Black Knights are one of the few teams to stay faithful to the triple option attack.
Army is currently 6-5 and plays one more regular season against traditional rival, Navy. Army's quarterback Trent Steelman averages 3.7 yards per carry and has rushed for 708 yards on the year. The offense is powered by fullback Jared Hassin, who has gained 884 yards on the year. Backs Patrick Mealey and Malcolm Brown have also been effective out of the backfield for the Academy.
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be televised on ESPN at 11 a.m. on Dec. 30.