The Associated Press
Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6), at Fort Worth, Texas, noon Friday (ESPN)
Line: Pittsburgh by 3.
Series Record: Tied 1-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
In a game featuring interim coaches for both teams, Pittsburgh needs to win the bowl for a winning season — just like last year, when the Panthers won the Little Caesars Bowl for a winning record. This is Houston’s fourth appearance in the 12-year-old Armed Forces Bowl.
The contrasting running games. Pittsburgh has ACC player of the year James Conner, who ran for 1,675 yards and set an ACC record with 24 rushing touchdowns even while hindered by a hip injury the last two games. Houston has a running quarterback with Greg Ward Jr. (1,736 yards passing, and 481 yards rushing), along with their combo of junior running backs Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson, who have combined for 1,531 yards with 17 touchdowns and eight 100-yard rushing games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston: Senior linebacker Efrem Oliphant has 130 tackles, 3½ sacks and two interceptions this season. He had multiple tackles in nine games this season.
Pittsburgh: Sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik has passed for 2,011 yards and 15 touchdowns, and rushed for 426 yards and three more scores.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Armed Forces Bowl is being played on the TCU campus for the 10th time. The bowl temporarily moved to the SMU campus in 2010 and 2011 while TCU’s stadium went through a total renovation. … The Cougars are 9-12-1 in bowl games, Houston is 13-17. … Pitt is in a bowl for the seventh consecutive season. … Houston has 58,223 total yards since 2006, a total surpassed only by Oregon’s 58,884. … Pitt has an FBS-high 81 underclassmen (53 freshmen, 28 sophomores). … The bowl was played before Christmas from 2003-06, and after Christmas since then, including New Year’s Eve from 2007-09. This is the first time for the game to be played in January.