Every Team's Best Bowl Moment
Clemson QB Homer Jordan
Clemson QB Homer Jordan
Posted Dec 9, 2008

From Homer Jordan and Clemson's national title win in the 1982 Orange Bowl to the Pete Giftopolous interception to give Penn State a Fiesta Bowl win over Miami to ... what was every 2008/2009 bowl team's best post-season moment? Richard Cirminiello goes back to provide the best memories of the bowl bunch.


Every Team's Best Bowl Moment


FedEx BCS National Championship
Jan. 8 / 8 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. FOX
*BCS #1 vs. BCS #2 
Oklahoma vs. Florida 

Best Gator Bowl Moment: How good was the 41-14 thumping of Ohio State in the BCS Championship Game two years ago? Good enough to trump the 52-20 annihilation of No. 1 and unbeaten Florida State in the 1997 Sugar Bowl as the best moment in Florida bowl history. Considered by many to be out of the top-ranked Buckeyes’ league, the Gators feasted on their slower opponent, holding Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and Ohio State to just 82 yards of total offense.       

Best Sooner Bowl Moment: Although the last four BCS bowl appearances have been eminently forgettable, OU’s 24-16-1 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 regaining 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.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 5 / 8 p.m. Phoenix, Ariz. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (Big 12 Champion, if available)
Texas vs.
Ohio State

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 46 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.

Best Buckeye Bowl Moment: Beyond the plethora of Rose Bowl wins, nothing could compare to the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. In one of the most thrilling college football games of all-time, Ohio State upset Miami in overtime to cop its first unanimous national championship in 34 years. A distant runner-up was the come-from-behind win against USC in the 1969 Rose Bowl that put the finishing touches on that previous national title.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 2 / 8:30 p.m. ET  New Orleans, La. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS  (SEC Champion, if available)
 Alabama vs. Utah

Best Ute Bowl Moment: Four years ago, the Utes set the bowl bar pretty doggone high for future teams to reach. Utah got four touchdown passes from Alex Smith, adding an exclamation point to a perfect regular season by completely obliterating Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. The win more than justified the Utes’ selection as the first non-BCS program to ever get invited to a BCS bowl game.   

Best Crimson Tide Bowl Moment: With an NCAA-record 54 invites and 31 victories, you can make a credible argument for about a dozen different games. By a sliver, the nod here goes to the 1979 Sugar Bowl over the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Both produced national championships, but the 14-7 win over top-ranked Penn State more than a quarter century ago featured an epic, game-saving goal line stand from the ‘Bama D that’s etched in the memory of everyone that witnessed it.

FedEx Orange Bowl
Jan. 1 / 8 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (ACC Champion, if available)
Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Best Bearcat Bowl Moment: Even a broken hand and unseasonably cold weather in Texas couldn’t keep Cincinnati QB Gino Guidugli from carving up the Marshall defense in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl.  The senior threw for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading the Bearcats to a 32-14 victory, their first in postseason play in seven years.

Best Hokie Bowl Moment: Meeting Florida State for the national championship in the 2000 Sugar Bowl was quite an accomplishment, but whooping a one-loss Texas team in the 1995 game was even better. Led by big plays from receiver Bryan Still and an attacking defense, the Big East champs won their tenth straight game, earning a second helping of national respect. 

Rose Bowl presented by Citi
Jan. 1 / 5:10 p.m. ET  Pasadena, Calif. ABC
*BCS vs. BCS  (Big Ten Champion vs. Pac 10 Champion, if available)
USC vs. Penn State

Best Trojan Bowl Moment: There have been a ton of memorable Rose Bowl wins in USC’s storied past;  however, the 2005 Orange Bowl was the site of the program’s most impressive moment, a 55-19 demolition of unbeaten Oklahoma to win a second straight national championship. Matt Leinart set an Orange Bowl record with five touchdown passes, while the mighty Trojans raised debates whether they were a modern-day dynasty. 

Best Nittany Lion Bowl Moment: In one of the most memorable bowl games of all-time, Penn State shocked Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl to earn its second national championship in four years. With a record-breaking 70 million viewers watching, the Lions intercepted Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde five times, the last one by Pete Giftopoulos at the Penn State one-yard line to seal an unexpected and heart-stopping 14-10 win.

The Rest

EagleBank Bowl
Dec. 20 / 11 a.m.. ET Washington, D.C.
Tie-Ins: ACC vs. Army or Navy 
Wake Forest
vs. Navy

Best Middie Bowl Moment: Ben Fay will forever be a part of Navy football lore. He was the backup quarterback, who came off the bench in the fourth quarter of the 1996 Aloha Bowl to help upset Cal, 42-38.  The senior led the offense on touchdown drives of 80 and 84 yards over the final 10:38 as the Academy captured its first bowl win in 18 years.

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.

New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 20/12:30 p.m. Albuquerque, N.M. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West vs. WAC 
Colorado State vs. Fresno State

Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: In one of the more historic victories in school history, Fresno State toyed with Pac-10 powerhouse USC in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. The Bulldogs picked off three Rob Johnson passes and outgained the favored Trojans 405-183 in a surprisingly easy 24-7 win.   
Best Ram Bowl Moment: Colorado State’s first-ever bowl victory came in a 32-31 thriller over Oregon in the 1990 Freedom Bowl. The WAC co-champion took particular delight in breaking into the win column against a member of the Pac-10. The teams played a seesaw game that wasn’t decided until the final minute, when the Rams stopped a potential game-winning two-point conversion just inches from the goal line.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 20 / 8 p.m. ET Las Vegas, Nev. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-10 No. 4
BYU vs.

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 TE Clay Brown from 41 yards out as time expired.

Best Wildcat Bowl Moment: Arizona makes its long-awaited return to the postseason, snapping a 10-year drought. Although they’ve yet to appear in the Rose Bowl, the Wildcats were pretty formidable between 1986 and 1998, winning five games in eight tries. The pinnacle was the 1994 Fiesta Bowl spanking of No. 10 Miami. Arizona created four turnovers and got 142 yards on the ground from Chuck Levy, pitching the only shutout in Fiesta Bowl history.

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl
Dec. 20 / 9 p.m. ET  St. Petersburg, Fl.
Tie-Ins: Big East vs. Conference USA 
South Florida vs. Memphis

Best Tiger Bowl Moment: Since Memphis’ bowl dossier consists of just five games, one of which was the 1971 Pasadena Bowl, the nod would have to go to the 2003 New Orleans Bowl triumph over North Texas.  The Tigers snapped a 32-year bowl drought that December by beating the perennial Sun Belt champs, 27-17. 

Best Bull Bowl Moment: In 2005, South Florida played in its first bowl game, a 14-0 loss to NC State in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. A year later, the Bulls won their first bowl game, a 24-7 defeat of East Carolina in the inaugural PapaJohns.com Bowl. In another important stride for head coach Jim Leavitt and the program, USF got a pair of touchdown runs from RB Benjamin Williams and an outstanding effort from a defense that delivered six sacks and was particularly nasty in the red zone. 

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 21 / 8 p.m. ET New Orleans, La. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Sun Belt No. 1 vs. C-USA 
Troy vs. Southern Miss

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 the TCU 28-21 when Jeff Kelly found Kenneth Johnson for the game-winning touchdown with eight ticks left in the game.

Best Trojan Bowl Moment: In its brief stay in the FBS, Troy has split its two bowl appearances, losing to Northern Illinois in the 2004 Silicon Valley Bowl and routing Rice in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl. As was the case throughout the season, QB Omar Haugabook was the headliner for the Trojans, accounting for 319 total yards and five touchdowns.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 23 / 8 p.m. ET San Diego, Calif. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West vs. Pac 10 (WAC if no Pac 10 team available)
TCU vs. Boise State

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.

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 upset of Oklahoma in overtime. 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.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Dec. 24 / 8 p.m. ET  Honolulu, Hawaii ESPN
Tie-Ins: Pac 10 vs. WAC 
 Notre Dame
vs. Hawaii

Best Warrior Bowl Moment: The 54-48, three-overtime win over Houston in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl may have been more fun, but the 1999 Oahu Bowl had much more meaning. Just one year removed from an 0-12 season, the Warriors completed the biggest one-year turnaround in NCAA history with a 23-17 win over Oregon State.  It wasn’t particularly pretty, but for Hawaii and first-year coach June Jones, it marked the launching point for a successful run that still endures today.

Best Irish Bowl Moment: As hard as it is to imagine, it’s been 15 years since the Irish have won a bowl game. Prior to the current nine-game losing streak, however, it had 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 the national championship with an 11-0 record.

Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26 / 7:30 p.m. ET  Detroit, Mich. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 7 vs. MAC 
Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan

Best Owl Bowl Moment: Just last year, Florida Atlantic played in the 2007 New Orleans Bowl, a reward for winning the Sun Belt championship. The Owls jumped out to a fast start against Memphis, going on to a comfortable 44-27 victory in their first-ever bowl appearance. The hero was QB Rusty Smith, who threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers.

Best Chippewa Bowl Moment: Central Michigan has taken part in four bowl games, but only the 2006 Motor City Bowl ended with a victory. The Chippewas handled Middle Tennessee State, 31-14, getting a pair of touchdowns from Ontario Sneed to cap a sensational MAC-championship year with their first 10-win season since 1979.

Champs Sports Bowl
Dec. 27 / 4:30 p.m. ET  Orlando, Fla. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 4 or No. 5
Florida State
vs. Wisconsin

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 Byron Bennett field goal attempt fittingly sailed wide left before wrapping up the win and the school’s first national championship.  

Best Badger Bowl Moment: Wisconsin won three Rose Bowls under the watchful eye of Barry Alvarez, but none that generated more electricity in Madison than the 1994 victory. The 21-16 win over UCLA was the school’s first on New Year’s Day, capping the Badgers’ first Big Ten title in 32 years. More than 70,000 rabid fans made the trip to Pasadena, giving Wisconsin a unique home-field advantage in the Bruins’ home stadium.   

Emerald Bowl
Dec. 27 / 8:30 p.m. ET  San Francisco, Calif. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 7 vs. Pac-10 No. 5
Miami vs.

Best Hurricane Bowl Moment: The first of Miami’s five national championships came on the heels of one of the most riveting games in college football history, the 1984 Orange Bowl. The ‘Canes, a team with few stars, were considerable underdogs to Nebraska, which entered the game on a 22-game winning streak. The game featured Husker guard Dean Steinkuhler's "fumblerooskie" touchdown run and a game-saving tip of an attempted two-point conversion pass by Miami safety Ken Calhoun. The 31-30 win marked the emergence of the ‘Canes as a national power.

Best 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.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Dec. 27 / 1 p.m. ET Charlotte, N.C. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 6 vs. Big East 
North Carolina vs. West Virginia

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 win, 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 Mountaineer Bowl Moment: The postseason had been a horror show for West Virginia…until the 2006 Sugar Bowl and the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. The same program that had lost 11 of its previous 12 bowl games jumped all over heavily-favored Georgia in the Georgia Dome before holding on for a 38-35 win that ranks among the most important in school history. This past January, the ‘eers, seemingly a rudderless ship, rallied around interim coach Bill Stewart, to stun Oklahoma in Arizona, 48-28, behind the heroics of Pat White and Noel Devine.

PapaJohn’s.com Bowl
Dec. 29 / 3 p.m. ET Birmingham, Ala. ESPN2
Tie-Ins: Big East vs. SEC (or Sun Belt if no SEC team available)
Rutgers  vs. NC 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 RB Ray Rice and WR Tim Brown to jump on Kansas State early, pulling away in the second half for an easy 37-10 win. 

Best Wolfpack Bowl Moment: By ACC standards, State has had a rich and extensive postseason history.  They’ve got 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 a couple of years, when the ‘Pack stuffed Notre Dame 28-6 for a convincing win in the 2002 Gator Bowl.

Independence Bowl
Dec. 28 / 8 p.m. ET  Shreveport, La. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 7 vs. SEC No. 8 (Or WAC & the third choice of Sun Belt teams if no Big 12 or SEC team available)
Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois

Best Huskie Bowl Moment: There wasn’t much drama or many style points, but Northern Illinois’ 34-21 win over Troy in the 2004 Silicon Valley Classic was a landmark victory for a program that was breaking a 21-year postseason dry spell

Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: Louisiana Tech’s bowl history consists of four appearances and just a single victory more than three decades ago. Bulldog QB Keith Thibodeaux was the game’s MVP, throwing two touchdown passes in a 21-point first quarter outburst. Tech held on for a 24-14 victory to finish the season 9-1-2.

Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29 / 8 p.m. ET  San Antonio, Texas ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 4 or No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Northwestern vs. Missouri

Best Wildcat Bowl Moment: No contest. When you’re the Big Ten’s perennial doormat and you haven’t been to a bowl game in 47 years, an unexpected berth in the Rose Bowl is more than a great bowl moment—it’s the modern day high point for your program. Such was the case for the 1995 ‘Cats, who shocked the world by winning the conference title and earning a trip to Pasadena. They led favored USC early in the fourth quarter before succumbing 41-32. 

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, 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 D held Heisman winner Joe Bellino to just four yards on the ground.

Texas Bowl
Dec. 30 / 8 p.m. NFL Network
Tie-Ins: Houston, Texas
Big 12 vs. C-USA 
Western Michigan vs. Rice

Best Owl Bowl Moment: Back in the day, Rice was a feisty program under legendary coach Jess Neely, stepping up every few years and winning a Southwest Conference championship. Led by the dynamic pitch-and-catch combo of Tobin Rote to Froggy Williams and a cast of talented seniors, the 1949 squad was the best of the lot, going 10-1 and capping the year with a 27-13 Cotton Bowl victory over North Carolina and Choo Choo Justice.

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.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Dec. 30 / 8 p.m. ET San Diego, Calif. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 3 vs. Pac-10 No. 2
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon

Best Cowboy Bowl Moment: One of the great offensive displays in postseason history, Oklahoma State ambushed Wyoming 62-14 in the 1988 Holiday Bowl.  The Cowboys cranked out 698 yards and 34 first downs behind Heisman winner Barry Sanders’ 222 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and a near- perfect passing performance from current head coach Mike Gundy.

Best Duck Bowl Moment: There have been Rose Bowls, a Cotton Bowl and a slew of minor bowls in Oregon’s history, all of which paled in comparison to the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. Joey Harrington threw four touchdown passes, Steve Smith picked off three passes, and the No. 2 Ducks put a bow on the most successful season in school history by pummeling No. 3 Colorado 38-16. 

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 30/4:30 p.m.  Boise, Idaho ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 8 vs. WAC
vs. Nevada

Best Terrapin Bowl Moment: In what is still the biggest win in Maryland history, the Terps shocked No. 1 and regular season national champ Tennessee in the 1952 Sugar Bowl. The upset, led by Ed Modzelewski’s 153 yards rushing and Ed Fullerton’s two scores, one on offense and one on defense, sealed the only perfect season in Maryland history.

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.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 31 / 12 p.m. ET  Fort Worth, Texas ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West vs. Conference USA 
Air Force vs.

Best Cougar Bowl Moment: The last second upset of Nebraska in the 1980 Cotton Bowl warrants real strong consideration; however, it’s the 30-21 win over unbeaten Maryland in the 1977 Cotton Bowl that has a special place in the hearts of Cougar fans. The school’s first trip to a New Year’s Day bowl game was the finishing touch on an unforgettable season that saw Houston stun the Southwest Conference by winning the league in its debut as a member. 

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. The Falcons were uncommonly balanced in the lopsided victory, generating 232 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air from game MVP, QB Blane Morgan.

Sun Bowl
Dec. 31 / 2 p.m. ET. El Paso, Texas CBS
Tie-Ins: Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame vs. Pac-10 No. 3
Pitt vs. Oregon State

Best Panther Bowl Moment: Ranked No. 9 before the 1976 season began, Pittsburgh wrapped up the national championship with a dominant 27-3 win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Heisman winner Tony Dorsett rushed for a Sugar Bowl-record 202 yards, and the Panther defense one-upped the vaunted Junkyard Dawgs, keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone for the first time all season.  

Best Beaver Bowl Moment
: Oregon State has been to three Rose Bowls over the last 60 years, but even those trips to Pasadena paled in comparison to the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Pac-10 laughingstocks no more, the Beavers rode a 29-point third quarter outburst to embarrass No. 10 Notre Dame, 41-9.  Few victories in school history carried more clout for the OSU football program.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Dec. 31 / 3:30 p.m. ET Nashville, Tenn. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC vs. SEC No. 5
Boston College vs.

Best Eagle Bowl Moment: The 1984 season will forever be remembered fondly by Eagle fans.  It was the year of Flutie, the Heisman and the miracle in Miami. It was also the scene of Boston College’s first bowl win in 44 years, a 45-28 thumping of Houston in the 1985 Cotton Bowl. Flutie threw three touchdown passes, but the real hero was running back Troy Stradford, who ran for 196 yards and was named the game’s MVP.

Best Commodore Bowl Moment: Three bowl appearances. One victory, which occurred more than half a century ago in the 1955 Gator Bowl. Facing SEC rival Auburn, Vanderbilt pulled away behind the heroics of QB Don Orr, who was questionable to even dress for the game. Still recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered a month earlier, he rebounded with a touchdown pass and two touchdown runs to earn game MVP honors.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Dec. 31 / 7:30 p.m. ET  Atlanta, Ga. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 2 vs. SEC
Georgia Tech
vs. LSU

Best Yellow Jacket Bowl Moment: Tech boasts a nifty 22-14 bowl record, including 8-6 since 1985. The Jackets did most of their big-game damage in the 1940s and 1950s; however, it was the 1991 Florida Citrus Bowl which means the most to today’s generation of Tech fans. Led by the passing of Shawn Jones and the running of William Bell, Bobby Ross’ team pummeled Nebraska 45-21, en route to an unbeaten season and the UPI’s share of the national championship.

Best Tiger Bowl Moment: Look no further than the 2004 Sugar Bowl, a more-dominant-than-the-score-indicated 21-14 win over Oklahoma, which gave LSU a share of its first national championship in 45 years.  The Tigers harassed Heisman winner Jason White from the opening drive, getting just enough of an offensive spark from freshman RB Justin Vincent to pull off the mild upset in the Superdome.

Insight Bowl
Dec. 31 / 5:30 ET Tempe, Ariz. NFL Network
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
vs. Kansas

Best Jayhawk Bowl Moment: Kansas capped one of the best seasons in school history with one of the best victories in school history, a 24-21 win over favored Virginia Tech in the 2008 Orange Bowl. Obviously motivated by pre-game whispers about a soft D and a soft regular season schedule, the Jayhawks delivered their best defensive effort of the year to finish ranked No. 7 in the final AP Poll.

Best Gopher Bowl Moment: It’s been quite some time since Minnesota reigned supreme in the Big Ten or played a game in Pasadena. Almost half a century, in fact. Behind the play of legendary quarterback Sandy Stephens and a terrific defensive effort, the Gophers beat UCLA 21-3 in the 1962 Rose Bowl to avenge a loss to Washington in Pasadena a year earlier.

Outback Bowl
Jan. 1 / 11 a.m. ET Tampa, Fla. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC
Iowa vs.
South Carolina

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, respectively for their only Rose Bowl victories. The 38-12 win over the Golden Bears was particularly impressive as the offense rolled up 441 of its 528 total yards on the ground. 

Best Gamecock Bowl Moment: South Carolina has won four of its last five bowl games, the only four postseason victories in school history. In the 2002 Outback Bowl, the Gamecocks allowed Ohio State to rally from a 28-point deficit before Daniel Weaver booted a game-winning 42-yard field goal for a sigh-of-relief victory. It was South Carolina’s second straight win over the Buckeyes in Tampa and a symbol of just how far the program had progressed under Lou Holtz.

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Jan. 1 / 1 p.m. ET  Jacksonville, Fla. CBS
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 3 vs. Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame 
Clemson vs.

Best Tiger Bowl Moment: It’s been a quarter of a century since Clemson participated in one of college football’s marquee bowl games. Back in 1982, the Tigers played No. 4 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl with national supremacy hinging on the outcome. Danny Ford’s underrated defensive unit frustrated the star-studded Husker offense in a 22-15 win that gave the Tigers a perfect season and its only national championship.   

Best Husker Bowl Moment: Nebraska’s massive bowl resume includes an unheard of 30 New Year’s Day appearances. You can go in so many directions with this question, such as pasting No. 2 Alabama in the 1972 Orange Bowl, pounding Notre Dame 40-6 in the 1973 Orange Bowl in Bob Devaney’s final game, breaking a seven-game bowl slide, or winning the national title with a win over Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl. However, no game stands out more than the 62-24 demolition of Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. In a match up of No. 1 vs. No. 2, the Huskers rushed for a bowl-record 524 yards, putting forth one of the most dominant big game performances the sport has ever witnessed.

Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1 / 1 p.m. Orlando, Fla. ABC
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Michigan State vs. Georgia

Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: Georgia has a very rich bowl tradition that includes 41 invites and victories in the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl.  Fueled by freshman sensation Herschel Walker, the Dawgs took a perfect mark into the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where No. 7 Notre Dame awaited.  Walker shook off a dislocated shoulder in the first quarter to score a pair of touchdowns leading Georgia to a 17-10 win and the national title.     

Best Spartan Bowl Moment: While rival Michigan has a timeshare in Pasadena, it’s been a long time since Michigan State has played a meaningful game in January. The Spartans are 3-1 in the Rose Bowl, including a couple of wins over UCLA in the 1950s. In the 1954 game, No. 3 Michigan State rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit to pull out the win, getting a touchdown run and a back-breaking punt return for a score from RB Billy Wells. 

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Jan. 2 / 5:00 p.m. ET Memphis, Tenn. ESPN
Tie-Ins: C-USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 6
East Carolina vs. Kentucky

Best Wildcat Bowl Moment: Considering that Kentucky has won just four bowl games over the last 54 years, there aren’t many options. If you dig deep enough, however, you’ll find a hidden gem in the 1951 Sugar Bowl. Under the guidance of Bear Bryant, the Wildcats shocked national champion Oklahoma 13-7 behind a stingy defense and a pair of Wilbur Jamerson touchdowns to finish with 11 wins for the first time in school history.

Best Pirate Bowl Moment: In one of the most memorable wins in school history, East Carolina rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to beat long-time rival North Carolina State in the 1992 Peach Bowl. In front of the largest crowd to ever watch two North Carolina teams play, Pirate QB Jeff Blake ran for a score and threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final eight minutes for a pulsating 37-34 victory. The win gave the Pirates state bragging rights and a No. 9 ranking in the final AP poll. 

AT&T Cotton Bowl
Jan. 2 / 2 p.m. ET Dallas, Texas FOX
Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC 
Texas Tech vs.
Ole Miss

Best Rebel Bowl Moment: Under legendary head coach Johnny Vaught, Ole Miss made a habit out of playing in big bowl games in the 1950s and 1960s. The most memorable was a 21-0 thumping of LSU in the 1960 Sugar Bowl that avenged a loss to the Tigers during the regular season. The 10-1 Rebels notched their eighth shutout of the season and outgained their SEC rival 363-74.

Best Red Raider Bowl Moment: Over the years, the bowl season has been anything but festive for Tech.  Covering 31 games since 1938, it’s lost 19 times and played in January just three times over the last half century. The 1953 squad was a rare exception. That explosive 11-1 team blew out Auburn 35-13 in a historic 1954 Gator Bowl. The game marked the first time Tech was broadcast on television and gave birth to the Masked Rider as a fabled school tradition. 

International Bowl
Jan. 3 / 12 p.m. ET Toronto, Canada ESPN2
Tie-Ins: Big East vs. MAC No. 4 or 5
Connecticut vs. Buffalo

Best Bull Bowl Moment: All hail, Turner Gill, who’s leading Buffalo to its first-ever bowl game, a silly notion just a couple of years ago. To put this accomplishment in context, the Bulls went 12-79 between 1999-2006 before beginning to make some tangible strides in 2007.

Best Husky Bowl Moment: Connecticut’s first bowl invitation was a stepping stone moment for a young program that hadn’t been competing in I-A very long. Just three years after elevating from I-AA, the Huskies pounded Toledo in the 2004 Motor City Bowl, 39-10, behind the passing of star QB Dan Orlovsky and the play of an opportunistic and unheralded defense.

Jan. 6 / 8 p.m. ET  Mobile, Ala.  ESPN
Tie-Ins: C-USA No. 2 vs. MAC/WAC
Tulsa vs. Ball State

Best Golden Hurricane Bowl Moment: Tulsa’s most impressive postseason win came more than half a century ago, when the Hurricane swooped into Miami, and used seven turnovers to upset Georgia Tech in the 1945 Orange Bowl. This generation, however, will have none of it. It points to the dramatic come-from-behind win over Fresno State in the 2005 Liberty Bowl that capped a turnaround, or last year’s 63-7 rout of Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl.

Best Cardinal Bowl Moment: Although the Cardinals have taken part in four bowl games throughout their history, they’re still searching for their first postseason win. Ball State’s best effort came in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl, a 42-33 loss to Utah State that closed out a successful 8-3-1 campaign in Muncie.