Every Bowl Team's Best Moment - Part 2
Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel
Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel
Posted Dec 14, 2011

The best games and the brightest moments for all the 2011-2012 bowl teams

2011-2012 Bowls

Best Bowl Moments - Part 2 


The 2011-2012 Pre-Bowl Rankings
- No. 1 to No. 9 | No. 10 to No. 17 | No. 18 to No. 27 | No. 28 to No. 35  

- Best Bowl Moments - the BCS Bowls  

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
December 17, 2011 Albuquerque, NM, 2 pm ESPN
Payout: $750,000
Wyoming vs. Temple 
Line: Temple -6.5   O/U: 47.5

Best Cowboy Bowl Moment: The Cowboys did beat Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl two years ago, one of two bowl victories for the program since a 1966 Sun Bowl defeat of Florida State. That other victory, however, will likely endure for a longer period of time in the public memory. It came in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl over UCLA, 24-21. A heavy underdog, the Cowboys got a Corey Bramlet to John Wadkowski touchdown pass with 57 seconds left to snap a six-game postseason losing streak.

Best Owl Bowl Moment: Throughout the long history of Temple football, there have been just a few bowl appearances, losing the inaugural Sugar Bowl to Tulane in 1935 and defeating Cal, 28-17, in the 1979 Garden State Bowl. Running back Kevin Duckett was one of the catalysts of that 1979 team, which finished 10-2 and generated some brief excitement around Philadelphia under coach Wayne Hardin, one of the more underrated coaches in college football history.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl  
December 17, 2011  Boise, ID, 5:30 ESPN
Payout: $650,000
Utah State vs. Ohio  
Line: Utah State -3.5  O/U: 58

Best Bobcat Bowl Moment: The Bobcats' next bowl victory will also be their first victory, so the high points are scarce. Ohio has taken the collar in its five postseason opportunities, losing last year to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl just as it lost to West Texas A&M in its first bowl go-round at the 1962 Sun Bowl.

Best Aggie Bowl Moment: Charlie Weatherbie had himself quite a decade in the 1990s. He coached Navy to a bowl win in 1996, but three years earlier, he guided Utah State to its only bowl win in five tries. The USU crew topped Ball State, 42-33, to capture the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. This season, Utah State will once again try to knock off a Mid-American Conference opponent.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl  
December 17, 2011 New Orleans, LA, 9:00 pm, ESPN
Payout: $325,000
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. San Diego State  
Line: San Diego State -5   O/U: 60

Best Aztec Bowl Moment: It is said that the first time is always the most special one, but San Diego State's history of bowl victories rates as an exception. With all due respect to Don Coryell's takedown of Boston University in the 1969 Pasadena Bowl, SDSU's second bowl win was better than its first. A 35-14 romp over Navy in last year's Poinsettia Bowl gave the Aztecs a beautiful home-field finale, a glorious conclusion to a supremely distinguished season. San Diego State lost on its home field to Iowa in the 1986 Holiday Bowl, so the ability to win at Qualcomm Stadium a year ago against Navy gave the program its most indelibly happy postseason memory.

Best Ragin' Cajun Bowl Moment: THIS ONE! For the first time in 40 seasons, Louisiana-Lafayette is going bowling. First-year coach Mark Hudspeth hopes that his team will avoid a 7-10 split (or a 7-10 loss…) against San Diego State in the Big Easy. Louisiana-Lafayette can also say this: Its season did not result in the loss of its coach; whereas Sun Belt champion Arkansas State saw Hugh Freeze go to Ole Miss, Hudspeth will be in Lafayette for the 2012 season.
Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
December 20, 2011 St. Petersburg, FL, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Payout: $1 million
Marshall vs. FIU
Line: FIU -4.5  O/U: 50.5

Best Thundering Herd Bowl Moment: While it's getting hard to recall, Marshall was a postseason regular between 1997 and 2004, routinely arriving as the MAC champion. During that stretch, no game showcased the program's resiliency and quick-strike offense more than the 2001 GMAC Bowl, an instant classic. In the highest scoring game in bowl history, the Herd and quarterback Byron Leftwich overcame a 30-point halftime deficit to stun East Carolina in double-overtime, 64-61.

Best Golden Panther Bowl Moment: Florida International's first bowl game arrived last year in the Little Caesars Bowl against Toledo. The mere act of playing in a program's first-ever bowl game must have been a heady experience for coach Mario Cristobal's club, but the Golden Panthers then made the occasion even more unforgettable by winning in supremely theatrical fashion. A hook-and-lateral conversion of a late 4th and 17 kept a last-ditch drive alive after Toledo took a 32-31 lead on a successful 2-point try with just over one minute left in regulation. FIU's Jack Griffin split the pipes on a 34-yard field goal at the gun, and the Golden Panthers walked out of Ford Field in Detroit with a 34-32 triumph. Not bad for a first bowl game, eh?

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
December 21, 2011 San Diego, CA, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $1 million
TCU vs. Louisiana Tech

Line: TCU -11   O.U. 55.5

Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: Louisiana Tech's bowl history consists of five appearances and just two victories, but the 2008 Independence Bowl was an ugly slog of a survival act. Tech's better triumph was its virginal bowl victory more than three decades ago. Bulldog quarterback Keith Thibodeaux was the MVP of the 1977 Independence Bowl against Louisville, throwing two touchdown passes in a 21-point first quarter outburst. Tech held on for a 24-14 victory to finish that season 9-1-2.

Best Horned Frog Bowl Moment: Generations before the current Frogs were even out of diapers, TCU was winning Southwest and national titles in the 1930s with All-Americans, such as Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien. O'Brien's 1938 TCU team capped off a perfect season with a 15-7 Sugar Bowl victory over then- No. 5 Carnegie Tech. Yes, that win deserves just as much praise as last season's 2011 Rose Bowl triumph over Wisconsin.

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
December 22, 2011  Las Vegas, NV, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $2.2 million
Boise State vs. Arizona State
Line: Boise State -13.5  O.U: 67

Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Is there really any debate? Boise State arguably delivered the most memorable and thrilling performance in bowl history in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, a 43-42 overtime upset of Oklahoma. A frequent participant in the local Humanitarian Bowl, the Broncos took their inventive brand of football on the road, winning on a Statue of Liberty two-pointer that'll forever be a part of sports lore. The electrifying finish made the Broncos' earlier exploits – including a tying hook-and-lateral touchdown at the end of regulation – look almost pedestrian by comparison.

Best Sun Devil Bowl Moment: The 1983 Fiesta Bowl takedown of Oklahoma was fun, but the 1975 Fiesta Bowl win over a mighty Nebraska team is the postseason game that first catapulted Arizona State to national prominence on a particularly large scale. Iconic coach Frank Kush, the best coach in ASU history, outfoxed a young Tom Osborne in a game which hastened ASU's rise from the Western Athletic Conference to the Pac-10 a few years later.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Payout: $1.3 million
December 24, 2011 Honolulu, HI, 8:00 pm ESPN
Southern Miss vs. Nevada
Line: Southern Miss -6   O.U: 61

Best Golden Eagle Bowl Moment: TCU entered the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl with the nation's No. 1 defense, top rusher in LaDainian Tomlinson, and a nifty 10-1 record. The Horned Frogs left the Heart of Dixie with their second blemish. Southern Miss rallied in the fourth quarter to stun TCU, 28-21, when Jeff Kelly found Kenneth Johnson for the game-winning touchdown with eight ticks left in the game.

Best Wolf Pack Bowl Moment: In one of the most exciting games of the 2005 bowl bonanza, Nevada got by UCF in the Hawaii Bowl, 49-48, in overtime. In a wild, see-saw game that featured 1,178 yards of offense, the Wolf Pack got off the island with a win after Matt Prater missed an extra point that would have sent the game to a second extra session.

Advocare V100 Independence Bowl 
December 26, 2011  Shreveport, LA, 5:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $2.3 million
Missouri vs. North Carolina  
Line: Missouri -4   O.U: 53

Best Tar Heel Bowl Moment: The Gator Bowl has been the scene of some of North Carolina's biggest postseason triumphs, and nearly half of its 12 bowl wins. None was more impressive than the 1998 variety, which featured a 42-3 Tar Heel demolition of Virginia Tech. The blowout put an exclamation point on an 11-1 season, one of the most successful in Carolina history.

Best Tiger Bowl Moment: The 2005 comeback win over South Carolina in the Independence Bowl was nice, but Missouri's biggest bowl conquests reside deep in the past, with nine New Year's Day bowl games before 1971 and not one until 2007. A 21-14 defeat of Navy in the 1961 Orange Bowl ended a seven-game bowl losing streak, propelling the Tigers to No. 5 in the AP Poll and capping the best season in school history. In the win, the Mizzou defense held Navy's 1960 Heisman winner, running back Joe Bellino, to just four yards on the ground.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl 
December 27, 2011  Detroit, MI, 4:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $1.5 million
Western Michigan vs. Purdue  
Line: Purdue -2.5  O/U: 60

Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Western Michigan's next bowl victory will be its first. The Broncos came close in the 1988 California Bowl, nearly shocking high-powered Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium before falling short, 35-30, to the passing of Mark Barsotti and the running of game MVP Darrell Rosette.

Best Boilermaker Bowl Moment: In its long history, Purdue has been to just a pair of Rose Bowls, winning one long before any current players were born. Back in 1966 when Bob Griese was barking out signals, the Boilermakers capped their first nine-win season in nearly a quarter century and a No. 6 ranking in the final polls by defeating USC 14-13.

Belk Bowl 
December 27, 2011  Charlotte, NC, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.4 million
Louisville vs. NC State
Line: NC State -2.5   O.U: 45.5

Best Wolfpack Bowl Moment: By ACC standards, State has had a rich and extensive postseason history. The Wolfpack claims a dozen wins and a handful of exciting finishes to back that up. However, to find its proudest moment, you only have to venture back several years, when the ‘Pack stuffed Notre Dame, 28-6, for a convincing win in the 2003 Gator Bowl.

Best Cardinal Bowl Moment: In terms of trailblazing significance, Louisville's big bowl breakthrough was the 1991 Fiesta Bowl smackdown of the Alabama Crimson Tide. That game marked the day when Howard Schnellenberger's goals were fulfilled, and a program emerged from the shadows. However, in terms of pure prestige, the 2007 Orange Bowl win over Wake Forest represented a greater feat. Coach Bobby Petrino created a juggernaut in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and that night in South Florida marked the zenith of everything Petrino accomplished in a short but extremely fruitful tenure.
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
December 28, 2011  Washington, DC, 4:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $1.725 million
Air Force vs. Toledo

Line: Toledo -3  O.U: 71

Best Rocket Bowl Moment: Toledo owns seven bowl wins, but the first three came against programs that currently reside in the Football Championship Subdivision. A 2001 Motor City Bowl win over Cincinnati was something to write home about because it gave the Rockets in-state bragging rights, but the 2005 GMAC Bowl rout of UTEP was the Rockets' foremost bowl-game masterclass. A thorough drubbing of one of Mike Price's best UTEP teams marked a flawless performance in a big game, a sweet taste of perfection that never fades away with the passage of time.

Best Falcon Bowl Moment: One of the most decisive postseason wins in Air Force history came in the 1998 Oahu Bowl, a 45-25 demolition of the Pac-10's Washington Huskies. The Falcons were uncommonly balanced in the lopsided victory, generating 232 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air from game MVP, quarterback Blane Morgan.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl 
December 28, 2011 San Diego, CA, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $4.3 million
Texas vs. California  
Line: Texas -3.5  O/U: 48

Best Golden Bear Bowl Moment: You've got to venture all the way back to 1938 and the days of Vic Bottari to find a truly meaningful Cal bowl victory. The "Thunder Team", as it was dubbed, shut out Alabama 13-0 in the Rose Bowl, en route to the Bears' second and last national championship. Cal finished its season in Pasadena eight times from 1921-1959, but hasn't been back since.

Best Longhorn Bowl Moment: With all due respect to its recent thrilling comeback wins over USC and Michigan in the Rose Bowl, nothing defines the Texas bowl experience more than the Cotton Bowl, home to almost half of the program's bowl destinations. Arguably the most rewarding of those trips to Dallas was in 1970, when the ‘Horns came from behind twice in the fourth quarter to beat a Notre Dame team that was ending a 44-year self-imposed bowl-moratorium. The win, No. 500 in school history, cemented UT's second national title.

Champs Sports Bowl
December 29, 2011 Orlando, FL, 5:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $4.65 million
Florida State vs. Notre Dame
Line: Florida State -3  O/U 48

Best Seminole Bowl Moment: The ‘Noles' 14-game bowl unbeaten streak from 1982-1998 is one of the most incredible runs of any kind in college football history. The high point of that boon—and there were many—was the classic 1994 Orange Bowl with Nebraska that matched the top two teams in the country. Florida State took an 18-16 lead on a Scott Bentley chip shot with 21 seconds left, but had to watch as a field goal attempt by Nebraska's Byron Bennett fittingly sailed wide left. Finally standing on the sunshine side of a late missed kick, Florida State reveled in a hard-fought win and the school's first national championship.

Best Irish Bowl Moment: As hard as it is to imagine, it's been 17 years since the Irish have won a major bowl game, the 1994 Cotton classic against Texas A&M. Prior to the current losing streak in showcase bowl games, however, Notre Dame compiled plenty of huge victories in the 1970s and 1980s. In particular, the 1973 Sugar Bowl pitting No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Notre Dame lived up to the billing of "the game of the century." In a thriller that featured six lead changes, the Irish won the game 24-23 and claimed the national championship with an 11-0 record.

Valero Alamo Bowl
December 29, 2011 San Antonio, TX, 9:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $6.35 million
Baylor vs. Washington
Line: Baylor -9  O/U 78

Best Husky Bowl Moment: Steve Emtman. Billy Joe Hobert. Mario Bailey. These and other stars catapulted coach Don James's best Washington team to an emphatic 34-14 smackdown of Michigan in a highly anticipated 1992 Rose Bowl. The No. 2 Huskies and the No. 4 Wolverines played a game imbued with the electricity worthy of a game with national-title implications, and when Washington manhandled Michigan with noticeable ease, it was hard to deny the sense that the best collegiate football team in the United States was the team that resided in Seattle.

Best Bear Bowl Moment: Grant Teaff is the greatest coach in Baylor football history, but the Bears' most consequential bowl win came long before he arrived. Teaff's best Baylor squads were stopped by Joe Paterno and Penn State in the 1975 Cotton Bowl, and then by Bear Bryant's Alabama outfit in the 1981 Cotton classic. Baylor's signature bowl moment remains the 1957 Sugar Bowl, a 13-7 conquest of Tennessee and Heisman Trophy runner-up Johnny Majors.

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl
December 30, 2011 Fort Worth, TX, 12:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $1.2 million
Tulsa vs. BYU
Line: BYU -3  O.U 55.5

Best Cougar Bowl Moment: From 1978 to 1984, BYU and the Holiday Bowl were synonymous with the magic and excitement of the postseason. That was never truer than in 1980, when Jim McMahon and the high-voltage Cougars engineered an incredible comeback for the school's first bowl triumph. Trailing SMU 38-19 at the start of the fourth quarter, BYU stormed back, pulling out a miraculous win when McMahon connected with tight end Clay Brown from 41 yards out as time expired.

Best Golden Hurricane Bowl Moment: Tulsa's most impressive postseason win came more than 65 years ago, when the Hurricane swooped into Miami and used seven takeaways to upset Georgia Tech in the 1945 Orange Bowl. This generation, however, will have none of it. A younger set of Tulsa fans would point to a dramatic come-from-behind win over Fresno State in the 2005 Liberty Bowl that capped a stunning turnaround for the program. Other Golden Hurricane fans under 30 would cite a 63-7 rout of Bowling Green at the end of the 2007 season in the GMAC Bowl.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
December 30, 2011 Bronx, NY, 3:20 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.6 million
Rutgers vs. Iowa State
Line: Rutgers -2   O/U: 44.5

Best Cyclone Bowl Moment: Among the few bowl games Iowa State has won, the 2000 Insight Bowl stands out the most. The 2000 edition of the Cyclones won nine games, finishing off a memorable season by popping Pittsburgh, 37-29, in Phoenix. ISU jumped out to a big lead on the Panthers behind the running of Ennis Haywood, the receiving of Chris Anthony, and the passing of Sage Rosenfels. Subsequent bowl wins against Miami University and Minnesota have burnished the Cyclones' bowl profile, but that first win over Pittsburgh remains a crowning bowl moment in for Iowa State.

Best Scarlet Knight Bowl Moment: The Scarlet Knights knocked on the bowl door in 2005 before kicking it down a year later, picking up a school-first bowl victory in the inaugural Texas Bowl. Rutgers used big plays from running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Tim Brown to jump on Kansas State early, pulling away in the second half for an easy 37-10 win.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
December 30, 2011   Nashville, TN, 6:40 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.675
Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State
Line: Mississippi State -6.5  O/U 48

Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: Playing through a blizzard for much of the game, Mississippi State defeated Texas A&M, 43-41, in the 2000 Independence Bowl, one of the wilder games in college football's postseason history. The Bulldogs fought back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter, winning the game on a blocked extra point that was returned for a two-pointer, followed by a six-yard touchdown scamper from quarterback Wayne Madkin.

Best Demon Deacon Moment: Given little chance for victory in the 2002 Seattle Bowl, the Demon Deacons routed favored Oregon 38-17 behind a balanced offensive attack that featured 256 yards on the ground and 241 yards through the air. Game MVP James MacPherson ran for a score and passed for two touchdowns (and 241 yards) on just 9-of-16 passing.

Insight Bowl  
December 30, 2011 Tempe, AZ, 10:00 pm
Payout: $6.7 million
Iowa vs. Oklahoma 
Line: Oklahoma -14   O/U: 58

Best Hawkeye Bowl Moment: For the 11 members of the Big Ten conference, success is measured in terms Rose Bowl berths and victories. For the Hawkeyes, that level of success hasn't reached their campus since the latter half of the 1950s. Iowa beat Oregon State and Cal in 1957 and 1959 for its only Rose Bowl victories. The 38-12 win over the Golden Bears in '59 was particularly impressive – the Hawkeyes' offense rolled up 441 of its 528 total yards on the ground.

Best Sooner Bowl Moment: Although most of the last several BCS bowl appearances have been eminently forgettable for this proud football school, Oklahoma's 26-17-1 bowl record ranks among the best of any program with at least 15 appearances. The Sooners, regulars in Miami throughout the years, used the 2001 Orange Bowl as a vehicle to regain their status as a perennial national title contender. The Oklahoma defense suffocated high-powered Florida State in a shocking 13-2 win that captured the school's seventh national championship.

- Best Bowl Moments - the BCS Bowls