Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
It could be a brisk game in Fort Worth, with two teams that run when they do anything well on offense. But the number of games this season are dwindling, so tune in
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Saturday, 11:45 a.m. ET, ESPN
Why it exists: Because you can never have enough bowls recognizing #merica.
The teams: Rice and Air Force
How Rice got here: A fortunate turn in the schedule. The Owls were 2-6 when they entered the stretch run of the schedule, which conveniently included four teams who ended the regular season with a combined record of 11-37. Take SMU out of the mix and the remaining three opponents went 5-31. That allowed Rice to get into the postseason despite being a thoroughly mediocre team -- their total offense ranks 50th in the FBS (421.1 ypg), while the total defense comes in at 95th (443.6 ypg). The Owls rushing offense is decent, generating 201.3 yards a game, but there's nothing else about their stat sheet that screams "bowl team." Neither do losses at Kansas and Memphis.
How Air Force got here: Well, they don't call it the Armed Forces Bowl for nothing. The Falcons bumped around .500 for most of the year, losing both legs of the Commander-in-Chief circuit and defeating just one bowl-eligible school all year (Nevada). As you might expect, Air Force ranks second in the nation in rushing, churning out 328.8 yards a contest. The stars of the offense are Connor Dietz, the quarterback who makes all the trains run on time, and Cody Getz, who's rushed for more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns on 191 attempts. The defense -- well, it's not precisely what you would expect from a school that feeds the Pentagon. The Falcons allow about 401.6 yards per game.
College football fans care because: It's the start of a marathon bowl day that will basically takes us up to midnight or later in the East. Might as well start early. And as much as these two teams run, it should only take about two hours of your time. And if that's not enough, this is one of your last chances to see a military academy offense in action this season.
SEC fans care because: We love #merica
Watch this game if...: You're patriotic. And can stomach the idea of a pre-noon kickoff.
cocknfire's pick: Air Force 34, Rice 24
Line: Air Force by 2
(Record straight up: 9-5; ATS 5-9)