Army gets bowl spot after Tennessee’s withdrawal due to COVID-19

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FILE – In this Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, file photo, Army head coach Jeff Monken looks on against Navy during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Point, N.Y., in the 121st playing of the Army-Navy game. Army has a 9-2 record and was planning to play in the Independence Bowl. When that bowl game was called off because there was not another team available, it suddenly left Army looking for a postseason opponent. The Black Knights could be in line should some bowl-bound team find itself dealing with COVID-19 issues. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Army went from left out of the bowls to replacing Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl on Monday night, hours after the Volunteers withdrew because of COVID-19 test results.

“WE’RE BOWL BOUND‼️ #GoARMY,” Army football wrote on Twitter.

The 9-2 Black Knights were left without a bowl Sunday night after a nearly two-month-long commitment to the Independence Bowl when the Dec. 26 game in Louisiana was called off without an available team to play.

A spot became available Monday when Tennessee became the first team to back out since bowl berths were announced and paused all football activities after receiving the results of Sunday’s testing.

“The test results revealed an increase in positive cases among student-athletes and staff and subsequent contact tracing,” Tennessee said in a statement. “The decision was made in consultation with health officials, the Southeastern Conference and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.”

The change in opponent was no problem for West Virginia, the other original team in the game scheduled for Dec. 31 in Memphis, Tennessee.

“We’re game! Let’s play ball @ArmyWP_Football,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown wrote on Twitter.

The Volunteers will end their season at 3-7 with losses in seven of their final eight games. They lost 34-13 to No. 5 Texas A&M on Saturday.

Third-year coach Jeremy Pruitt is among those who tested positive. Pruitt said he was informed earlier Monday that he had tested positive and began isolating at home.

“I am experiencing mild symptoms but doing fine,” Pruitt said. “We are obviously disappointed that we will not be able to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, but the health and safety of our student-athletes will always remain our top priority.”

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