AMES - Iowa State finally has an opponent in the Independence Bowl, and it's the school that has played in more bowls than anyone.
Alabama accepted an invitation on Sunday to play Iowa State in the Dec. 27 game at Shreveport, La. It will be the 51st bowl appearance for the Crimson Tide, who stood 3-5 at one point, then won their final three regular-season games to become bowl eligible.
"I don't think there will be any team as fired up about a bowl game as us," first-year coach Dennis Franchione said. "The kids have been as enthused, and almost feisty, as I've seen them.'
Iowa State accepted its invitation a week ago. It will be the the sixth bowl trip for the Cyclones.
Alabama was chosen for the game ahead of Mississippi, which beat the Crimson Tide 27-24. That was one of three close losses for Alabama, which lost to UCLA 20-17 and to South Carolina 37-36.
The Tide's other losses were to LSU and Tennessee.
Earlier, it appeared Alabama would play in the Music City Bowl and Arkansas would play Iowa State. But LSU's upset of Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference championship game changed the bowl picture for the SEC schools. Arkansas is going to the Cotton and Georgia to the Music City Bowl.
"We were excited about either opportunity," Franchione said. "We were not really holding one in preference over the other one."
Franchione, formerly the coach at TCU, was hired to replace Mike Dubose, who was let go after Alabama lost its final five games last season to finish 3-8.
Alabama got the sixth victory it needed to become eligible for a bowl by beating Southern Mississippi 28-15 in its last regular season game. The Crimson Tide won that game without running back Santonio Beard, who had been suspended by Franchione after being arrested for driving under the influence.
Beard, who ran for 199 yards in a 31-7 victory over Auburn, has been practicing with the team and is expected to play against Iowa State.