Everything is officially official. The Virginia Cavaliers will be facing the Naval Academy Midshipmen in the 2017 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman. This is Virginia’s 19th bowl game in the school’s history, and their first since 2011. With their selection to the Military Bowl - which benefits the USO - Virginia earned a spot in the postseason in head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s second season, showing improvement ahead of schedule for the Cavaliers.
There’s a lot of reasons to be excited about the Hoos heading to Annapolis.
It’s a great matchup
Yes, I know the Hoos have to travel to Annapolis and take on the Mids on their home field.
Yes, I know the Midshipmen have won all but one game (against No. 10 UCF) when they’ve played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
I still love this matchup. Coach Mendenhall has talked about his affinity for playing the triple option, something the Navy does under head coach Ken Niutamalolo. Navy is 6-5 heading into their final game of the regular season against Army this coming Saturday, and have solid wins over SMU and Cincinnati.
For a first bowl game in way too long for Virginia, a matchup with a service academy is a good start, and Navy isn’t at the same strength as they were when they had Keenan Reynolds two years ago.
It’s a great location
Annapolis is an absolutely lovely town, and it’s a ton of fun. The Military Bowl includes several outstanding events during Bowl Week. There’s a parade, wine walk, and bar crawl for the fans, along with events hosted by the UVA Clubs of DC/Baltimore/Annapolis or the Virginia Athletics Foundation. The team will stay at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, DC, and the district around the holidays offers a lot of options for visitors and residents alike.
Additionally, the Hoos have several players from the DC/MD/Northern VA area. Andre Levrone (Laurel, MD), Lamont Atkins (Burke, VA), Chris Moore (Ashburn, VA), and Micah Kiser (Baltimore, MD) are just a few of the Cavaliers who should have a large support contingent on hand. An estimated 40,000 Virginia alumni live in the greater DC area, and, as of publish, tickets were moving at a pretty good clip online. The atmosphere should be amazing for the game.
It’s a great bowl
The Military Bowl is technically a “Tier Two” bowl, but this is a perfect fit for this season. As mentioned above, the location and matchup should make for a phenomenal gameday environment for the game, but that’s not all. The Military Bowl benefits the United Services Organization, more commonly known as the USO, and the bowl has donated over $600,000 to the USO and 30,000 tickets to military members since the game was created in 2008.
Student athletes will have a chance to give back to the community during bowl week, as well as have a chance to enjoy Washington, DC (as well as practice time with the team, of course). The Hoos are an excellent representative of the ACC for this one.