The previews continue here at the BBC with the rush of games scheduled for tomorrow. While the Air Force history may make you want to curl into a ball and cry, it’s worth it for the Rice history. Enjoy!
History: The bowl game first appeared in 2003 as the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl. That sponsorship lasted all of two seasons and led to a rather unique situation in 2005 – a bowl game without a sponsor. Bell Helicopter came to the rescue in 2006, and has remained the sponsor ever since. The game is traditionally a match-up of the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, played in Amon G. Carter Stadium at TCU. That pairing has survived this year, and allowed Air Force to play their fourth game in 6 years at the Armed Forces Bowl.
Air Force Scouting Report: Air Force finished fourth in the Mountain West conference this year. Their first three losses were by a combined 16 points, including a loss at Michigan (31-25) and a loss to Navy in overtime (28-21). Unfortunately, they finished out the season 1-3 with devastating losses to Army (41-21), San Diego State (28-9), and Fresno State (48-15). Much of that may have been due to running back Cody Getz’s unfortunate ankle injury against Wyoming, an injury that he is reported to have recovered from.
There is no question what kind of game Air Force prefers to play. They are the 2nd best pound-it-out-on-the-ground team in the nation but only the 122nd passing offense (worst in the nation), defying all logic regarding their student’s preferred careers. Running Back Cody Getz has put together a respectable 1213 yards and 9 TDs on 191 carries. He’s followed by Quarterback Connor Dietz’s 658 yards on 138 carries, and not unreasonable 1127 yards on 67-108 passing for the season. They’re not bad at throwing, they just prefer not to.
Buckeye Connection: The only instance the Buckeyes have ever played Air Force (and I can already see my father cringing) was a 23-11 loss in the 1990 Liberty Bowl to the 7-5 Fighting Falcons. That Buckeye’s team finished the season 7-4-1 overall, having lost to USC, Illinois, and Michigan, and picking up a tie against Indiana. In fact, that year the Bucks were on the doorstep of earning a Rose Bowl bid if they could take out the Wolverines, but instead fell 16-13 and tumbled all the way down to the Liberty Bowl – a game the team had no desire to play.
On the bright side, we did kill Wisconsin 35-10 …they were only 1-10 that year. We’ll tuck that season back into the history books and not look at it again, shall we?
Rice Scouting Report: The Rice Owls have not had a picturesque season, but have definitely finished more strongly than the Falcons. Through their first six games, the Owls went 1-5 overall, with their only win coming in a one point victory over…Kansas. If your only win through your first 6 games is Kansas, you’re having a pretty bad season. However, they did finish strong, going 5-1 over their last six, with their only loss by 4 points to eventual conference champion Tulsa.
Rice is not particularly strong in any one phase of the game. Quarterback Taylor McHargue is a reasonable dual-threat having scored 11 touchdowns both through the air and on the ground. He’s joined in the running game by Charles Ross, who has 131 carries for 743 yards and is leading the team. More important to Buckeye Fans, however, is Sam McGuffie. You may recall him as the guy who got plastered on a kick-off return in the 2008 edition of The Game. He’s currently Rice’s second leading receiver in his fourth year of eligibility.
Buckeye Connection: Other than the fact that Sam McGuffie was once a recruiting target for the Buckeyes, the Buckeyes and Rice have actually played a handful of games in Ohio Stadium. In 1993, the Buckeyes took care of the Owls 34-7 in one of the early games of the season. Three year’s later, they welcomed the Owls back and sent them home with a 70-7 thrashing, one of two 70 point outputs from the Buckeyes that year.
There’s a pretty strong feeling around here about Air Force’s chances against the Owls. I suspect the return of Cody Getz will make a big difference in this game, despite the recent game history of both teams.