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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Tulane headed to Military Bowl

Tulane University is headed to the 2023 Military Bowl. (Courtesy of Parker Waters — Tulane Athletics)

Following another winning season, Tulane University’s football team earned its fifth bowl game selection in six years. While this past weekend’s agonizing defeat to Southern Methodist University caused Tulane to narrowly miss out on a New Year’s Six bowl bid, Tulane’s season-long excellence secured their spot in the 2023 Military Bowl.

Established in 2008 as the EagleBank Bowl, the Military Bowl is held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, paying homage to members of the armed forces. The game traditionally features teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the American Athletic Conference.

This year’s game is on Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. CST, as Tulane, 11-2, faces Virginia Tech, 6-6. Having met nine times prior, Virginia Tech holds a narrow lead of 5-4 in the all-time series. The most recent meeting between the two came in 1989, and Virginia Tech came out on top with a score of 30-13.

Each team took very different paths to ultimately reach this point. Tulane, whose only regular season loss came against No.11-ranked Ole Miss, finished as the second-ranked AAC team to SMU. Their loss in the AAC Championship represented their only in-conference loss this year. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, is a Power 5 team who only became bowl-eligible following their season ending win against University of Virginia. While they struggled mightily against ranked teams, they finished the season strong with four wins in their last six games.

Both Tulane and Virginia Tech have emphasized defense throughout the season, ranked 32nd and 24th, respectively, in total defense. Virginia Tech, however, often struggles to contain the run. This pattern would bode well for Tulane’s team, whose success will rely heavily on the performance of AAC Rookie of the Year Makhi Hughes. If Tulane can exploit gaps in Virginia Tech’s rush defense, AAC Offensive Player of the Year Michael Pratt and his top receiving option, Chris Brazzell II, will most certainly take advantage of the opportunity for big plays through the air. 

Conversely, the formula for Virginia Tech’s balanced attack will rely on their ability to find holes in Tulane’s secondary. Tulane has a staunch rush defense, so Virginia Tech quarterback Kyron Drones will carry much of the burden in leading his team to success.

The Military Bowl also provides Tulane fans with their initial look at the coaching potential of interim head coach Slade Nagle. Nagle has served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for two years and played a prominent role in the team’s success. 

With a remarkable 23-4 record over the past two seasons, Tulane continues to ride an incredible wave of momentum entering their final game of the season. While the Military Bowl may not be exactly what fans hoped for, it is a prime opportunity for Tulane to win its eighth bowl game in team history and further solidify its standing as a perennial contender in the AAC.

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