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Armed Forces Bowl Preview: Army, Southern Methodist Shake Up the Status Quo

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, December 30, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

What it is: A bowl to honor the men and women of our Armed Forces. No, this one is different than the other one.

The teams: Army and Southern Methodist

How Army got here: No disrespect to our nation's soon-to-be veterans, but they got to a bowl game with one of the weakest schedules ever put together. The five FBS teams on the slate won a total of 17 games, and even FCS cupcake VMI was 3-8. Granted, the Black Knights will take a bowl bid any way they can get it after almost 15 years without one. But their inclusion in the postseason is either evidence that we have too many bowl games or, if you disagree with that, that a postseason appearance is not what it once was. On the Xs-and-Os front, Army got to this bowl game just like any military academy gets to a bowl game: They ran for 3,072 yards and passed for just 985. There was not much in the way of smoke and mirrors, beyond the schedule; Army outscored and outgained its opponents on the year.

How Southern Methodist got here: By buying players. Sorry, that's the old way. By pounding out offense to the tune of 5,391 yards on the year, as June Jones continues one of the most impressive rebuilding jobs in the country. And while you know that Jones throws the ball a lot, he also has a great running back in Zach Line, who rushed for 1,391 yards and 10 TDs on the year. Ah, yes, that passing game. Kyle Padron did a pretty good job for a sophomore, going 279-of-474 for 3,526 yards, 29 TDs and 12 INTs. Defense? Well, the team has allowed 4,711 yards on the season -- BUT POINTS! Only one of Southern Methodist's losses was to a team that won't also play in a bowl -- that would be the 25-point waxing against Houston -- and the Mustangs played in the Conference-USA championship game, losing to UCF.

College football fans care because: These are two non-traditional bowl teams facing each other in the postseason.

SEC fans care because: Insert an Auburn joke here. If you're an Auburn fan, I've got nothing.

Watch this game if...: You still don't want the terrorists to win.

The result: Southern Methodist 27, Army 24