Washington, D.C. – The Military Bowl, presented by Northrop Grumman and benefiting the USO, will include a United States service academy as the Air Force Falcons (7-5) from the Mountain West Conference (MWC) accepted an invitation to play at RFK Stadium on December 28 in Washington, D.C. Air Force will host the Toledo Rockets (8-4) from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in a match-up that will air live on ESPN at 4:30 p.m. EST.
"This is a tremendous matchup for the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman," said Steve Beck, president and executive director of the bowl. "The game is all about the men and women of our military and raising support and awareness for the USO, so having a military academy represented in the Air Force Academy versus an exciting, high-scoring Toledo Rockets team is great for our game. We look forward to hosting both teams and their dedicated fans throughout bowl week here in the nation’s capital."
The 2011 season has been a record-setting one for Air Force as the school is making a fifth straight bowl appearance for the first time in school history.
The Falcons are holders of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for a second consecutive season. They rallied from a two-touchdown halftime deficit against Army on November 5 for a 24-14 win over the Black Knights to retain possession of the coveted award presented each season to the winner of the round-robin series among the three U.S. military academies – Army, Navy and Air Force. Air Force beat Navy 35-34 in overtime on October 1.
Two members of the Falcons’ roster, offensive lineman Jordan Eason (Smithfield, Va.) and defensive lineman Harry Kens (Vienna, Va.), will be making their returns to the D.C. area for the December 28 game.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson leads an Air Force offense that is one of the most explosive in the country. The Falcons average 34.4 points per game and are second in the nation in rushing with a 320.3 per-game average. Air Force is second in the Mountain West Conference and among the nation’s elite in total offense at 458.8 yards per game, including 138.5 yards passing. All four are mark career best in the tenure of Head Coach Troy Calhoun (2007-present).
Linebackers Brady Amack and Alex Means, along with safety Jon Davis, lead a Falcons’ defense that has also been solid this season, ranking seventh nationally in pass defense, with an average of 162.7 yards per game.
Guided by third-year head coach Tim Beckman, the Toledo Rockets are making back-to-back postseason bowl appearances for the third time since 2000. A school-record three consecutive bowl appearances took place from 1969-1971, accounting for their first three bowl encounters.
Toledo comes into the game on a roll, finishing the season 8-4 (7-1 in the MAC) and winners of seven of their last eight contests. The Rockets seven conference wins tied for first in the MAC with Northern Illinois, to whom they suffered their only conference defeat. Their non-conference schedule consisted of games against three teams from BCS conferences and the Rockets nearly knocked off perennial power Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio on September 10 before falling 27-22.
The high-flying Rocket offense scored at least 44 points in each of their last five games, but the defense was so bad that Toledo scored 60 in regulation vs. Northern Illinois in a 63-60 loss. The very next week, Toledo outscored Western Michigan 66-63.
Leesburg, Virginia native Ross Madison will be making a homecoming to nearby D.C. for the game. The sophomore safety played in all 12 games for Toledo this season, recording 25 total tackles and an interception.
The goals of the Military Bowl are to bring the excitement of postseason college football to the Washington, D.C. region, while supporting the USO, USO-Metro and our nation’s military personnel. Last season the bowl donated over $100,000 to the USO and USO-Metro, as well as over 5,000 free tickets to active-duty servicemen, women and their families. This year, fans can again lend their support to our armed forces by purchasing tickets for use by military members and their families.
The Congrove Computer Rankings project Toledo to win by 4.24 points.