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Virginia, Navy to meet in Military Bowl; Virginia Tech heading to Camping World Bowl

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By GENE WANG | The Washington Post | Published: December 3, 2017

Three Washington, D.C.-area college football teams learned their bowl destinations on Sunday afternoon. Two of them are staying in the region to renew a formerly long-standing series.

Virginia and Navy are set to meet in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The programs have played one another 39 times, most recently in 1994.

On the same day, 22nd-ranked Virginia Tech faces No. 19 Oklahoma State in Orlando, Florida, in the Camping World Bowl. The Hokies are making their 25th consecutive bowl appearance.

The Cavaliers (6-6), under second-year Coach Bronco Mendenhall, are making their first bowl appearance since 2011. The Midshipmen (6-5) are making their 14th bowl appearance in 15 years and playing in the Military Bowl for the third time in the bowl game's 10-year history.

"To be selected to play in the Military Bowl is a special honor for our team," Mendenhall said in a statement. "This is a defining moment for these players who have worked tirelessly to accomplish this goal of returning Virginia football to a bowl game."

Said Midshipmen Coach Ken Niumatalolo: "Our players are excited about the opportunity to play one last game in what is hallowed ground at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Having the opportunity to represent the American Athletic Conference against a team from the ACC makes it even more exciting."

There are several coaching ties between Navy and Virginia, most notably George Welsh. The former Navy quarterback coached both schools, retiring as the all-time winningest coach in Virginia history during his tenure there from 1982 through 2000.

Welsh served as Navy coach from 1973 through 1981, winning 55 games, at the time the most in program history. Niumatalolo since has surpassed that mark.

In addition, Midshipmen assistant coach Shaun Nua, who's responsible for the defensive line, also was named to Mendenhall's staff in the same capacity in December 2015 when Niumatalolo was considering a move to Brigham Young. Nua eventually came back to Annapolis when Niumatalolo decided to remain at Navy.

"We are thrilled to renew this regional matchup in our 10th anniversary game," Military Bowl Executive Director Steve Beck said. "Navy and Coach Ken Niumatalolo annually show that they deserve a place in college football's upper echelon, and we are happy to welcome back Virginia to the postseason."

The Hokies (9-3) have been a regular participant in the bowl season with the third longest all-time streak in major college football history behind Nebraska (35) and Michigan (33).

Virginia Tech, which finished second in the ACC Coastal Division, goes back to the site of last year's ACC championship game at Camping World Stadium, where it lost to Clemson, 42-35. The Tigers went on to win the national championship.

It is the third meeting all-time between Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State (9-3), which finished third in the Big 12 behind a formidable passing attack. Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph leads Division I in passing yards (4,553) and is tied for fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing touchdowns (35).

"Our entire team would like to send our seniors out on a winning note," Hokies second-year Coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. "The opportunity to win 10 games for a second consecutive season is a challenge our squad will embrace. This team has earned the right to play a quality opponent in head coach Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State."

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