Printed on: December 29, 2012

Sixes are wild for Falcons, Owls


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Troy Calhoun remembers the day almost six years ago when he returned to Air Force as the first academy graduate to become the head coach.

The Falcons were coming off three consecutive losing seasons, and Calhoun recalls what he was told after taking the job.

"Somebody said, \\\'Hey, realistically, these first five years, if you can catch lightning in a bottle one time, maybe you get to a bowl game,\\\'" Calhoun said Friday.

Try six bowls in six seasons.

Air Force (6-6) makes its school-record sixth consecutive bowl appearance today against Rice (6-6) of Conference USA in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Calhoun\\\'s first season ended with a loss to California in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl, where the Falcons played three consecutive years before going to the Independence and Military bowls the last two years. They are back in Fort Worth after overcoming the loss of 17 senior starters from last season.

With only seven seniors (three of them tight ends), Rice is in its first bowl game since 2008. The Owls, who lost three games by four points or less, were 1-5 after a 14-10 loss at Memphis the first weekend of October.

"We set our goals to go to a bowl game (and) we had to get on a roll," coach David Bailiff said. "It\\\'s a tribute to our seniors."

Armed Forces Bowl Glance

Rice (6-6)

vs. Air Force (6-6)

Time: 9:45 a.m. (ESPN) at Fort Worth, Texas

Line: Air Force by 3

Series Record: Air Force leads 5-1

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Both teams are trying to finish with a winning record. Rice is going for its fifth victory in a row to end its 101st football season. This is only the Owls' third bowl game in 51 years. Air Force is playing in its school-record sixth consecutive bowl game, and fourth Armed Forces Bowl (1-2) in that span.

KEY MATCHUP

Rice defense against Air Force offense, which is second nationally with 329 yards rushing per game. So how much do the Falcons run the ball? They have only 17 pass attempts in their last three games, including none in one of those games. Rice is 91st nationally in rushing defense, allowing 193 yards per game.