Military Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Tulane

By Simon Carroll

Welcome to Bowl Season! 84 teams, 42 matchups, 35 different cities; if you thought the College Football postseason was restricted to the four teams in the playoffs, think again. In this game preview, we turn our attention to the Military Bowl matchup between Virginia Tech and Tulane:

Where and When

Military Bowl

Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD

Date: 27th December 2023

Time: 2:00pm (ET)

The Story So Far...

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Did you know that the Military Bowl is named such due to previous sponsors, rather than any intended affiliation with the US armed forces? Running since 2008, the first three years of this bowl game was held in Washington DC, aptly named the Congressional Bowl, and was sponsored by a bank. But since 2010, a litany of manufacturers or defense-based contractors have tied their name to it, and the Military Bowl was born. To further tie into the theme, the game was moved to the home of the Navy football team – and the game has been played at Memorial Stadium in Annapolis for a decade since.

Since the move to Maryland, the game has pitted an ACC team against an American Conference opponent, and 2023 will be no different; Virginia Tech have been here twice before, winning in 2014 before losing four years later. The Hokies hit rock bottom last season in Brent Pry’s first year in charge. Tasked with getting this progra back to it’s peak under Frank Beamer, Pry was able to get Virginia Tech bowl-eligible with four wins in the regular season’s last six games. Whilst nobody in Blacksburg will be delighted with a berth in a modest bowl game, it does at least represent improvement – and a sign that the new regime is heading in the righr direction.

The Hokies’ face a Tulane team that have been playing at a high level for the past two years. Under the guidance of Willie Fritz, the Green Wave have gone 2-4 since the start of last season, winning the American Conference last year and upsetting USC in the Cotton Bowl. A disappointing loss to SMU in this year’s conference title game was followed by the news that Fritz was leaving, heading to Houston to replace Dana Holgorsen. He’ll be replaced by former Troy HC Jon Sumrall – a savvy hire by the Green Wave, but perhaps poor timing with regards to playing in the postseason.

The Quarterbacks

There was some surprise at Lane Stadium when Pry decided that sophomore Kyron Drones would be the Hokies’ starting QB this season. Drones, a summer transfer from Baylor with just 14 passes in his career, beat out encumbent Grant Wells, who was returning to Blacksburg after early 2,400 yards and 16 TD’s in 2022. Drones is an exciting, dual threat quarterback who threw for 2,000 yards in his first season as a starter and added another 650 yards on the ground. With a 15-3 TD-INT ratio, he’s also extremely ball secure, particularly when you consider his lack of experience prior to this season.

Tulane have benefitted from having one of the best Group of Five QB’s lead their offense the last two years. Sadly, MIchael Pratt has declared for the draft and opted out of the Military Bowl, meaning the Green Wave will have to look elsewhere. If they were hoping to give backup QB Carson Haggard the nod, then they would have been disappointed when he entered the transfer portal earlier this month. That leaves Justin Ibieta the next man up – a redshirt sophomore that has seen nothing more than mop-up duty during his time in New Orleans. 

Prospects To Watch

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A hell of a lot of potential NFL talent from Tulane are opting out of the Military Bowl. As well as the aforementioned Michael Pratt, CB Jarius Monroe and WR Jha’Quan Jackson are both missing – two names well worthy of monitoring through Draft Season. That leaves safety Kam Pedescleaux as the one to watch from the Green Wave; a multi-faceted weapon in the secondary, Pedescleaux transferred over from nearby Louisiana last Summer, and continued in New Orleans where he left off in Lafayette. Playing the ‘anchor’ (star) role for Tulane, Pedescleaux is physical near the line of scrimmage and sticky in coverage – he has 28 pass breakups and 5 picks in his college career.

After struggling to nail down a starting gig in Gainesville, Florida transfer Antwaun Powell-Ryland decided to head to Vriginia Tech this season, and the move paid immediate dividends. The athletic edge rusher played every game for the Hokies in 2023, racking up 39 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. At 6’3″ and 242lbs, ‘APR’ is long and lean, with insane burst off the edge. NFL scouts might consider him something of a designated pass rusher, as Antwaun sometimes lacked a little sand in his pants setting the edge against the run. He’s also a reshirt junior so could opt to return to Blacksburg in 2024. But in terms of raw tools, there’s a lot to like.


This one could get a little messy for Tulane. Up to 12 starters out heading elsewhere or to the draft, down to their third-choice QB, and a head coach who has been in the building a little more than two weeks is a cocktail for defeat. They’re also up against a V-Tech program that have their tails up and want to finish the year with a win to confirm their progress in year two of the Brent Pry era.

Give me the Hokies to win, but don’t be surprised if Jon Sumrall comes ready with a few wrinkles to at least keep Tulane competitive.

Virgnia Tech 34-24 Tulane

Mock Draft