2008 Armed Forces - Profiles, History & More
Houston DE Phillip Hunt
Houston DE Phillip Hunt
Posted Dec 28, 2008

Player profiles, team history, the breakout players, the best bowl moments and more for the 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Houston (7-5) vs. Air Force (8-4)

Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Get Tickets for the Armed Forces Bowl

- 2008 CFN Armed Forces Bowl Preview

Scroll Down For Each Team's Bowl History

By Richard Cirminiello

Armed Forces Bowl History
2007 California 42, Air Force 36
2006 Utah 25, Tulsa 13
2005 Kansas 42, Houston 13
2004 Cincinnati 32, Marshall 14
2003 Boise State 34, TCU 31

Best Cougar Bowl Moment: The last second upset of Nebraska in the 1980 Cotton Bowl warrants real strong consideration; however, it’s the 30-21 win over unbeaten Maryland in the 1977 Cotton Bowl that has a special place in the hearts of Cougar fans. The school’s first trip to a New Year’s Day bowl game was the finishing touch on an unforgettable season that saw Houston stun the Southwest Conference by winning the league in its debut as a member. 
Best Falcon Bowl Moment: One of the most decisive postseason wins in Air Force history came in the 1998 Oahu Bowl, a 45-25 demolition of the Pac-10’s Washington. The Falcons were uncommonly balanced in the lopsided victory, generating 232 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air from game MVP, QB Blane Morgan.

The Last Time You'll See ...

DE Phillip Hunt. The Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Hunt has had a voracious appetite for quarterbacks ever since cracking the starting lineup in 2006. The one constant in an otherwise suspect defense, he’s used a great work ethic and pure speed around the edge to bag 31.5 career sacks, including a league-high dozen so far this season.
Air Force:
DE Jake Paulson. Paulson hasn’t just been a good pass rusher in his final season with the Academy. He’s been the pass rush for the Falcons, leading the team with 14 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. The first Air Force defensive lineman to ever earn All-Mountain West first team honors, he’s got the right combination of size and intangibles to make an NFL run once his military obligation is met.
Breakout Player ...

: WR L.J. Castile. Yes, he’s still raw, but when you’re a gifted 6-3 and 210-pound athlete, coaches have a tendency to be patient. A quarterback when he arrived in Houston, the sophomore has gradually assimilated to his new position, catching 29 passes for 511 yards and eight touchdowns. The Cougars are hoping Castille’s last game, five grabs for 144 yards and three touchdowns, provides a springboard into next season.
Air Force
: QB Tim Jefferson. In early October, Troy Calhoun made the bold move of turning his offense over to Jefferson, a true freshman. The coach has never looked back. Sure, the learning curve will be steep for awhile, but he’s shown flashes as a dual-threat behind center, and the experience of playing in a bowl game will pay tangible dividends in 2009 and beyond.

Best Non-Game Event
The Team Kickoff Luncheon and the Armed Forces Adventure are our two favorites with the fans. Over the last five years, the game has had General David Petreaus, ESPN's Lee Corso, Dallas Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones, former Oklahoma Sooners and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, and former Cowboy great Chad Hennings as keynote speakers at the luncheon, which annually draws 1,000 people. 

The Armed Forces Adventure is a fanfest area that has static military hardware from all five branches, such as tanks, fighter jets, Coast Guard ships, and Blue Angels flight simulators. It is believed to be the largest such display in the country. A large pep rally is conducted in the Armed Forces Adventure area the day before the game. An annual favorite for the players is the visit to Four-Day Weekend, a comedy troupe in Fort Worth that tailor-makes skits for each respective team.    

Player Gift Package
The game always tries to give at least one major high-tech item. This year it is a flip video recorder. In addition, players will receive an official bowl watch, a commemorative football, a rolling suitcase, a mini- helmet with a bowl logo on each side, an ESPN t-shirt, and a luggage tag with bowl logo.

Charitable Component
The two charities affiliated with the Armed Forces Bowl is the USO and the Children of Fallen Soldier's Relief Fund.

How Success is Measured
As in anything, there is no such thing as a perfect game. You strive for a sellout, good chemistry between the two teams which will hopefully produce a good game on the field, and excellent television ratings. Hospitality is also an extremely important component to success. The Armed Forces Bowl has had four or five teams tell it that it’s the number one bowl in that department. The game has 24 hospitality committees with over 200 volunteers. Paying tribute to the men and women in uniform is the underlying theme of the event.  

MVP of the Bowl
Nobody. It is truly a team effort and the Armed Forces Bowl has an outstanding professional staff and cadre of volunteers.

Impact to the Community
The economic impact is in the millions of dollars. Last year, for example, the game attracted more than 16,000 out-of-state visitors to the Fort Worth area for the event. Those fans, of course, fill up hotel rooms, restaurants, and shopping malls, and buy airline tickets and pay for rental cars, which need to be filled at local gas stations. In addition, Fort Worth is in the national spotlight for three hours during the live telecast of the game. 

Role of Volunteers
Volunteers are the backbone of the organization. Since the game only has four full-time staff members, it depends heavily on them and gives them a lot of responsibility. They have a very active role in hospitality and event management, and without their efforts, the Armed Forces Bowl wouldn't have enjoyed the growth and good reputation that’s been built over the last five years.

- 2008 CFN Armed Forces Bowl Preview

Houston Bowl History (8-10)
2007 Texas TCU 20, Houston 13
2006 Liberty S Carolina 44, Houston 36
2005 Fort Worth Kansas 42, Houston 13
2003 Hawaii Hawaii 54, Houston 48 (3OT)
1996 Liberty Syracuse 30, Houston 17
1988 Aloha Washington State 24, Houston 22
1985 Cotton Boston College 45, Houston 28
1981 Sun Oklahoma 40, Houston 14
1980 Garden State Houston 35, Navy 0
1980 Cotton Houston 17, Nebraska 14
1979 Cotton Notre Dame 35, Houston 34
1977 Cotton Houston 30, Maryland 21
1974 Bluebonnet Houston 31, NC State 31
1973 Bluebonnet Houston 47, Tulane 7
1971 Bluebonnet Colorado 29, Houston 17
1969 Bluebonnet Houston 36, Auburn 7
1962 Tangerine Houston 49, Miami (Ohio) 21
1952 Salad Houston 26, Dayton 21
Air Force Bowl History (8-8-1)
2007 Armed Forces Cal 42, Air Force 36
2002 San Fran. Virginia Tech 20, Air Force 13
2000 Silicon Valley Air Force 37, Fresno State 34
1998 Oahu Air Force 45, Washington 25
1997 Las Vegas Oregon 41, Air Force 13
1995 Copper Texas Tech 55, Air Force 41
1992 Liberty Mississippi 13, Air Force 0
1991 Liberty Air Force 38, Mississippi St. 15
1990 Liberty Air Force 23, Ohio St. 11
1989 Liberty Mississippi 42, Air Force 29
1987 Freedom Arizona St. 33, Air Force 28
1985 Bluebonnet Air Force 24, Texas 16
1984 Indep. Air Force 23, Virginia Tech 7
1983 Indep. Air Force 9, Mississippi 3
1982 Hall of Fame Air Force 36, Vanderbilt 28
1971 Sugar Tennessee 34, Air Force 13
1963 Gator North Carolina 35, Air Force 0
1959 Cotton Air Force 0, TCU 0

- 2007 CFN Armed Forces Bowl Preview