Twenty-four hours after the official announcement, the West Virginia Mountaineers’ matchup in the 2020 AutoZone Liberty Bowl has already changed.
According to a report filed to ESPN by Chris Lowe, the Tennessee Volunteers were forced to withdraw from the game after a string of positive COVID-19 tests — including head coach Jeremy Pruitt — and follow-up contact tracing. The Volunteers were tested on Sunday, and got their results back on Monday morning after they had already accepted the invitation to the Memphis-based bowl.
Enter the Army Black Knights, who finished the regular season with a 9-2 record and captured the Commander-in-Chief trophy after defeating both Air Force and Navy this season. Following their win over Air Force, the Black Knights were left out of the initial bowl pairings, but the announcement of Tennessee’s inability to play provided the opening that the Black Knights were looking for.
Take two: THE MATCHUP IS SET: @ArmyWP_Football will play @WVUfootball in the 62nd @AutoZone Liberty Bowl on December 31! #AZLB62 #GoArmy #HailWV— AutoZone Liberty Bowl (@AZOLibertyBowl) December 22, 2020
Tickets https://t.co/gAwlqBKoQo pic.twitter.com/HWYdbMJPaX
The game is still scheduled for December 31st at 4 PM, and will be broadcast on ESPN.
The new matchup will mark only the fourth time West Virginia and Army have faced off, with the Black Knights leading the all-time series 2-1. The Mountaineers last played the Black Knights in 1961 at West Point, winning 7-3. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown has never faced Army as a head coach, but a win here would put a nice bow on the bizarre 2020 season and give the Mountaineers a little momentum heading into 2021.
Liberty Bowl executives expect about 12,000 spectators to be allowed in the 58,000-seat stadium. For tickets, call (901) 795-7700, CLICK HERE for Ticketmaster.com, or email Kevin.Alexander@LibertyBowl.Org