Former Arizona State University President G. Homer Durham pitched the concept of a Phoenix-area football bowl game in 1968. Now, more than 40 years later, the Fiesta Bowl has hosted seven national championship games and has become an integral part of college football’s postseason.Read More
In front of a sellout crowd of 71,279 at University of Phoenix Stadium, No. 2 Clemson dominated No. 3 Ohio State in all phases of the game, earning a trip to its second consecutive national championship with a 31-0 win over the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 46th Annual PlayStation® Fiesta Bowl.
The Buckeyes took advantage of a two-headed rushing attack, out gaining the Irish 285-121 on the ground. Running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed 27 times for 160 yards and four touchdowns, which tied the Fiesta Bowl record set by Arizona State’s Woody Green in 1972. Quarterback J.T. Barrett added 108 yards on 23 rushing attempts and took home the 2016 Fiesta Bowl Offensive Player of the Game, also racking up 211 passing yards on 19-of-31 passes, a touchdown and an interception.
The No. 20 Boise State University football team rode the momentum from a hot start and a late defensive stop to hold off a charging No. 10 University of Arizona squad en route to a 38-30 victory at the 44th Annual VIZIO Fiesta Bowl.
National upstart No. 15 UCF authored one of the biggest upsets of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era, an offensive-flavored 52-42 victory over heavily favored No. 6 Baylor in the 43rd Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
The expected (Oregon’s quick-strike, big-play weapons), the unexpected (Kansas State’s season-low point total) and the bizarre (rare one-point safety) summarized the 42nd Annual Fiesta Bowl. The No. 4 Ducks led the No. 5 Wildcats start to finish in their convincing 35-17 victory, a contest pitting two 11-1 teams that remained undefeated and in national title contention until mid-November.
Like two heavyweight boxers, BCS no. 4 Stanford and BCS no. 3 Oklahoma State, boasting two of the nation’s most prolific offenses, traded punches into overtime before the Cowboys captured the 2012 Fiesta Bowl trophy with a 41–38 victory on Quinn Sharp’s 22-yard field goal.
Relentless Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma used 524 total yards and points on all five trips into the “red zone” on offense and a defense that contributed two interception returns for touchdowns and held Big East Conference champion Connecticut without an offensive touchdown in the Sooners’ 48–20 victory in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.
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Boise State reached into its bag of tricks and pulled out another dramatic victory in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos used a nervy fake punt in their own territory to stun Texas Christian 17-10 in a duel of unbeatens and the first BCS match-up of non-automatic qualifiers.
Colt McCoy was determined to make sure he and his Texas Longhorns finished on top this time. After narrowly being left out of the BCS National Championship Game and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy race, McCoy hit Quan Cosby for a 26-yard touchdown with 16 seconds to play to cap an 11-play, 78-yard drive and give the Longhorns a 24-21 win over Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
Big East Conference champion West Virginia’s renowned speed and potent spread/big-play offense stunned Big 12 Conference titlist Oklahoma with six touchdowns, including three scores of 57 yards or longer and none shorter than 17 yards, in its 48-28 victory. The 2008 Fiesta Bowl was played in front of 70,016 fans at University of Phoenix Stadium, the 23rd sellout in the past 24 Fiesta Bowls.
There are times in sports when you see something you don’t believe. That was the case on several occasions in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, making it one of the most memorable and improbable games in college football history. Boise State, showing plenty of heart and resilience, used a series of trick plays to upset Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma, 43-42, in overtime in the first college football game ever played at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The 2006 Fiesta Bowl was the last at Sun Devil Stadium. But it was a similar scene as Ohio State won for the third time in four years with a big-play offense and a ball-hawking defense to defeat Notre Dame, 34-20, in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 76,196, the largest ever for a non-championship game. The game featured two of the most storied programs in college football, playing for just the fifth time in history, making it one of the most anticipated games in Fiesta Bowl history. Both teams won national championships in past Fiesta Bowls – Notre Dame in 1989 and Ohio State in 2003 – adding even more drama to a game that featured plenty of hype.
People were calling them the BCS Busters. Others were calling them Cinderella. Regardless of the title, Utah proved that it was simply one of the best teams in the nation, capping its perfect season with an exclamation point on the bright BCS stage. The Utes ran their spread-it-around offense to perfection and flew to the ball on defense to coast to a 35-7 win over Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl in prime time on New Year’s Day.
A year after winning the national championship in dramatic fashion, the Ohio State Buckeyes returned to Sun Devil Stadium and proved their fortitude with a 35-28 victory over Big 12 champion Kansas State in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl. The game wasn’t decided until a desperation pass by Kansas State hit the ground, but the Buckeyes had control throughout. Ohio State built leads of 21-0 and 35-14 behind its usual strengths — a tenacious defense and a gritty quarterback
People are calling the 2003 Fiesta Bowl the greatest game in college football history. That includes the experts, the media, the die-hard fans, the general fans and the bashers of the BCS. That’s what a double-overtime, edge-of-your-seat, palm sweating, instant classic can do. It can silence the critics and make people realize that college football is the greatest game in the land.
At the beginning of the 2001 college football season, the University of Oregon purchased a 10-story billboard in New York City to promote senior quarterback Joey Harrington for the Heisman Trophy. On the day of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl, Harrington must have looked at least that big to the Colorado Buffaloes, as he threw four touchdown passes to lead the Ducks to a convincing 38-16 victory in one of the most anticipated games of the year.
Oregon State put a serious exclamation point on its sudden emergence on the national college football scene. The Beavers took control in the third quarter to post a convincing 41-9 victory over Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl in front of 75,428, the third largest crowd in Fiesta Bowl history and the largest for a non-national championship game.
Too much speed, too much strength, just too much Nebraska. The Cornhuskers ran the football up and down the field, finishing with 321 yards on the ground, to power their way past Tennessee 31-21 in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.
Peerless is defined as “without equal; matchless.” On Mon-day, January 4, in the first Bowl Championship Series championship game, Tennessee’s Peerless Price proved worthy of his name.
Amid a sea of fans dressed in purple, Kansas State recorded what many believe was the biggest win in the school’s history, as Michael Bishop passed and rushed the Wildcats to a 35-18 victory over Syracuse in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl.
About every five years, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno takes his Nittany Lions to Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl. All he’s done in those games is record a perfect 5-0 record and claim the 1987 national championship.
The 1996 Fiesta Bowl was the perfect match-up. No.1 Nebraska against No. 2 Florida. Both teams were undefeated and untied, only the fifth time in college football history that this had happened in a bowl game. It was January 2, prime time, under the lights and the entire world watching.
Colorado entered the 1995 Fiesta Bowl with a lot on its side. It had the Heisman Trophy winner, its head coach was coaching his last game and it still had an outside chance at a national championship with a No. 4 national ranking.
What was billed as “A Defensive Duel in the Desert,” turned out to be for one team, as the Arizona Wildcats posted the first shutout in Fiesta Bowl history, blanking Miami 29-0. Both Arizona and Miami entered the IBM OS/2 1994 Fiesta Bowl with defenses ranked among the best in the nation.
Syracuse and Colorado, two very explosive football teams, found the going tough in a first half that produced only one touchdown and a 7-6 lead for the Buffaloes. But with the help of a razzle-dazzle kickoff return, the two teams easily entertained the crowd of more than 70,000 in the second half, as Syracuse prevailed, 26-22.
In the 1992 Fiesta Bowl, Penn State proved that it really is never over until it’s over. The Nittany Lions were dominated and outplayed by a determined Tennessee team after two-and-a-half quarters falling behind, 17-7, and being outgained 324-59 in total yardage.
Louisville entered the 1991 Fiesta Bowl as a huge underdog and with a dream to fulfill. The Cardinals did just that and a little bit more, as they jumped out to a 25-0 lead after just the first quarter and held on to trounce SEC power-house Alabama, 34-7, before a crowd of 69,098.
The Miami Hurricanes were voted the nation’s top team in 1989-90, but the Florida State Seminoles convinced many that they deserved the No. 1 ranking after a dominating 41-17 victory over sixth-ranked Nebraska in the 1990 Fiesta Bowl.
The 1989 Fiesta Bowl featured top-ranked Notre Dame and No. 3 West Virginia, the second game in three years that decided college football’s national championship. The Fiesta Bowl was back in the spotlight.
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden took a chance, going for a fourth down and 15 with 3:07 left to play and his Seminoles trailing 28-24. The gamble paid off as quarterback Danny McManus hit Ronald Lewis on a 15-yard slant pattern that produced a touchdown and a 31-28 Florida State victory in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl, another classic gridiron tug-of-war.
Head coach Jimmy Johnson brought his powerful Miami Hurri-canes to Tempe to oppose legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno and the Nit-tany Lions on Jan. 2, a day set aside by NBC to spotlight the top college football game of the year.
Michigan defensive back Garland Rivers intercepted Nebraska’s Steve Taylor in the end zone with 28 seconds left in the game to preserve the Wolverines’ 27-23 victory in an exciting 1986 Fiesta Bowl shootout.
The 1985 Fiesta Bowl was an electrifying shootout as UCLA and Miami combined for 827 yards in total offense, 76 points and six lead changes. When the smoke finally cleared, the Bruins pulled off the upset, 39-37, over the stunned Hurricanes.
Ohio State quarterback Mike Tomczak, with ice in his veins on this chilly January day, engineered a 13-play, 89-yard drive in the final 2:39 to lead the Buckeyes to a 28-23 victory over Pittsburgh in the 1984 Fiesta Bowl.
The 1983 Fiesta Bowl featured the awesome option attack of Oklahoma pitted against the strong Arizona State defense and passing game. Played on a picture perfect day in front of 70,553 enthusiastic fans, Arizona State was able to pull away in the fourth quarter and defeat Oklahoma, 32-21, despite an incredible performance by Sooner running back Marcus Dupree.
There were two battles taking place on the wet, soggy Sun Devil Stadium field during the 1982 Fiesta Bowl. One was the battle between Penn State and USC, and the other was the dazzling competition between Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen and the always-dangerous Curt Warner.
Penn State and Ohio State battled in one of the outstanding bowl match-ups of the 1980 season. The game could have gone either way, as both teams had several opportunities to win.
Powerful Pittsburgh arrived in Arizona with an impressive record (10-1) and an equally impressive defensive unit. The Panthers proved their point, swarming to the ball to force four turnovers.
UCLA and Arkansas engaged in an all out battle in the 1978 Fiesta Bowl, but when the final gun sounded all there was to show for the effort was a 10-10 tie, the only draw in Fiesta Bowl history.
Penn State was known for its shove-it-down-your-throat type football. Arizona State was known for its potent aerial assault.
The 1976 Fiesta Bowl was the case of the bully beating up on the new kid in town. Wyoming, just happened to be on the receiving end. The Sooners were unstoppable in every facet of the game and rolled to a 41-7 victory before a crowd of 48,714.
Frank Kush will always be remembered as a legendary coach at Arizona State. But in the 1975 Fiesta Bowl, it was the other Kush – Frank’s son Danny – who will most likely be remembered.
The Fiesta Bowl had been known as an offensive battle until Oklahoma State and BYU showed up in 1974. Despite the fierce defensive struggle, the Cowboys scored 16 unanswered points to pull away with a 16-6 victory in the 1974 Fiesta Bowl, before 50,879 restless fans.
Arizona State and Pittsburgh played tug-of-war for almost three quarters, before the Sun Devils broke loose for three touchdowns and a field goal in the final 16:29 to defeat the Panthers, 28-7 in the 1973 Fiesta Bowl, before a sellout crowd of 50,878.
Nobody thought that Fiesta Bowl I could be topped, but it took just one year to better the initial outing. Arizona State and Missouri combined to score more points than the first game, and the Sun Devils gained more yards than any other team in bowl history – 718.
The 1971 Fiesta Bowl was the first contest held, and some call it the most exciting bowl game of the ‘70s. To think it was just the beginning. The combined 83 points was the highest ever for a major bowl game, and 51,098 fans jammed Sun Devil Stadium, marking the largest crowd to watch a bowl game’s initial effort.