The Falcons are back in the Military Bowl, just not the ones usually associated with the military.
Bowling Green accepted an invitation Sunday to play No. 24 San Jose State at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital on Dec. 27.
This year's college football landscape again forced officials to stray from the Military Bowl's planned parameters of pitting a military academy against a familiar team from the East. The Air Force Falcons played in last year's game, and this year was supposed to match Army against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Army isn't bowl eligible and the ACC doesn't have enough eligible teams to fulfill its bowl tie-ins.
A pair of teams from Ohio and California will be a harder sell for the local market, but Military Bowl President Steve Beck said fans are also drawn by the game's mission of honoring servicemen and their families as well as raising money for the USO.
"We're not going to forget who we are," Beck said. "We are the Military Bowl. It's more of an experience."
The game will feature a Top 25 team for the first time in its five-year history, with San Jose State (10-2) of the Western Athletic Conference entering the rankings on Sunday. The Spartans, who have their first 10-win season since 1987, accepted the bid Friday for their first bowl game since a 20-12 victory over New Mexico in the 2006 New Mexico Bowl.
The Spartans have already been to Washington, D.C., once this year, taking in the sights while on a trip to play Navy in Annapolis, Md., in September. Coach Mike MacIntyre said he won't mind giving his players a second round of playing tourist — "especially at Christmastime with everything lit up."
Bowling Green (8-4) went 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference to place second in the East Division. The Falcons' last postseason appearance was a 43-42 loss to Idaho in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, and they are one of a MAC-record seven teams from the conference who are bowl-bound this season.
The MAC also sent Toledo to last year's Military Bowl, so Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson will be consulting his Rockets counterpart Matt Campbell for some tips about how to handle the game — although maybe not right away.
"Generally when you get good news," Clawson said, "the first person you call isn't your rival."
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