Navy Football Headed Back To Liberty Bowl For First Time Since 1981

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—The AutoZone Liberty Bowl announced Dec. 8 that the No. 21 / No. 23 Navy Midshipmen (9-2) and the Kansas State Wildcats (8-4) have accepted invitations to play in the 61st AutoZone Liberty Bowl Dec. 31 at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. Kickoff is set for 3:45 p.m. ET, 2:45 p.m. local time and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

“We’re honored to have the United States Naval Academy participate in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,” said Steve Ehrhart, Executive Director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. “Our bowl was founded on the principles of freedom, liberty and patriotism and the Midshipmen live those principles every day. It has been 38 years since Navy played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in 1981 and now, we are so proud to welcome Navy back.”

This marks Navy’s 24th bowl appearance and the 15th in the last 17 years. Navy’s only appearance in the Liberty Bowl came Dec. 30, 1981, when the Mids lost a heartbreaker to Ohio State, 31-28. Navy running back Eddie Meyers was named the game’s most valuable player in that contest.

Navy has won four of its last five bowl games and head coach Ken Niumatalolo’s five bowl wins are the most in school history.

“Congratulations to head coach Ken Niumatalolo and the entire Navy Football program for earning an invitation to this prestigious bowl game, said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “I couldn’t be more pleased and grateful to the Liberty Bowl committee for inviting us to the seventh oldest college bowl game and one of the most tradition-rich and patriotic bowl games in America. My deepest and sincere appreciation to my good friend Steve Ehrhardt. We talked about this possibility for two decades and I’m ecstatic that the stars have finally aligned for Navy to visit this amazing city and bowl game again. We look forward to embracing the community and accentuating our military influence by bringing together our alumni, midshipmen, enlisted personnel and veterans in a manner that exudes patriotism and enthusiasm in the Navy and Marine Corps family.”

“Our players are extremely excited to be invited to a bowl as prestigious as the Liberty Bowl and to have the opportunity to play such a great opponent like Kansas State,” said Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo. “Going to a bowl game is always one of our top goals, but right now our only focus is to get goal number one and that is to BEAT ARMY and win back the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.”

This will be the first meeting between Navy and Kansas State. The Mids last played a Big 12 team in the 2009 Texas Bowl when Navy rolled over current SEC member Missouri, 35-13.

The Wildcats finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, which included a 48-41 victory over Oklahoma (12-1). Kansas State also owns wins over Mississippi State, TCU, Kansas, Texas Tech and Iowa State. The Wildcats are averaging 30.7 points per game, while giving up just 21.5 per contest. Quarterback Skylar Thompson has passed for 2,191 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Navy fans can purchase tickets to attend the Liberty Bowl or donate tickets right now at or by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY during business hours. Ticket prices are $95 and $85 and the only way to sit with the Navy contingents is to buy your tickets through the Navy ticket office. $95 tickers are located in sections 101, 102, 106, 107, 108, 109, 131 and 132, while the $85 tickets are located in parts of sections 101 thru 108 and in section 132. Donated tickets are $50 and will be given to either midshipmen or enlisted personnel in the area.

Navy season ticket holders that donate 10 or more tickets will receive 10 percent off their 2020 season tickets.

Additionally, the Naval Academy class competition will be in effect which includes: 30 percent off 2020 Navy Football Season Tickets to the class that donates the highest amount of tickets for every member of the class that donates four or more tickets; 25 percent off 2020 Navy Football Season Tickets to the class that donates the second highest amount of tickets for every member of the class that donates four or more tickets; 20 percent off 2020 Navy Football Season Tickets to the class that donates the third highest amount of tickets for every member of the class that donates four or more tickets and 10 percent off 2020 Navy Football Season Tickets for any class that donates 100 or more tickets for every member of that class that donates four or more tickets.

A Bowl Game Tailgate will be held once again and details will be coming soon on how to purchase your tickets.

The AutoZone Liberty Bowl game was founded in Philadelphia in 1959 and the inaugural game featured a match-up between Penn State and Alabama. That game began a tradition of great stars and exciting football and was the first of 60 thrilling chapters in the history of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Football Classic.

After five years in Philadelphia, the game moved indoors to Atlantic City Convention Center for one year and in the process became the first indoor college bowl game. Every AutoZone Liberty Bowl since 1965 has been held at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis.

The AutoZone Liberty Bowl has enjoyed many highlights through the years. The Bowl has hosted all-time great coaches such as Paul “Bear” Bryant, Lou Holtz, Tom Osborne, Steve Spurrier and Bill Snyder. The Bowl’s history also includes four Heisman Trophy winners (Ernie Davis, Terry Baker, Doug Flutie and Bo Jackson) and other stars such as Archie Manning and Donovan McNabb.

Another proud tradition is the Bowl’s terrific partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which brings together an internationally recognized research facility and a winning college football tradition. St. Jude is dedicated to helping children throughout the world in their fight against catastrophic diseases.

Beginning in 2004, Memphis-based AutoZone, Inc., became the Bowl’s title sponsor.

— Navy Athletics press release

Photo Credit: Alex Edelman/PressBox


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