After a narrow defeat in the American Athletic Conference Championship game the previous night, the University of Tulsa waited all day Sunday to learn its bowl fate.
Most of the Hurricane’s possible landing spots were taken away one by one as a result of last-minute game cancellations, including the Military, Independence and Birmingham bowls.
With available bowls running out, TU fell into one of the final slots, having been selected for the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31 in Fort Worth, Texas. The game will be played at 11 a.m. and will air on ESPN.
The opponent will be Mississippi State, a team coached by Mike Leach that went 3-7 and finished last in the SEC West. The Bulldogs concluded their regular season Saturday with a 51-32 victory against Missouri.
“We’re excited to be representing our University, the city of Tulsa and the American Athletic Conference in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl,” coach Philip Montgomery said. “We’ll have our hands full with an extremely talented and well-coached Mississippi State football team. Coach Leach has been successful everywhere he’s been.”
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The Hurricane (6-2, 6-1) ended a six-game win streak with a 27-24 loss at Cincinnati in the title game, with the host Bearcats making a 34-yard field goal by Cole Smith as time expired.
TU hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2016 but hit the coveted six-win mark despite five games being canceled because of COVID-19. It was part of a stellar turnaround season after winning a combined nine games in the previous three years.
“I’m extremely excited that our football team will have another opportunity to play on a national stage against an SEC team in what has become a top-notch bowl,” interim TU athletic director Rick Dickson said. “These young men have been a determined, gritty and focused group during this unusual season, and it gives me great pleasure that they will continue their season in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. This is another opportunity to showcase their talents (as) well as our university.”