Army takes Liberty Bowl spot left by Tennessee’s withdrawal

Army will play West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl, filling the spot left by Tennessee’s withdrawal because of COVID-19 test results

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — 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.

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.

“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.”