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History of College Bowl Games

Your guide to some of the longest-running, as well as one of the newest, college bowl games.

History of College Bowl Games

Bowl games have been a college football tradition since the first one took place in 1902. Today, there are over 40 licensed bowl games. The Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are part of the College Football Playoff, and two semifinal games rotate among the six annually. The teams that win these two semifinal games advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl, also called the Tournament of Roses, held its inaugural game on Jan. 1, 1902 with University of Michigan beating Stanford University 49-0. Nicknamed The Granddaddy of Them All, it has hosted the first local radio broadcast in 1926 and the first national color telecast in 1962. Pasadena’s Rose Bowl was also the first bowl game to have 100,000 spectators in attendance in 1950. An exclusive agreement among the Tournament of Roses Association, the Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 Conference was arranged in 1946 and is the oldest intercollegiate postseason bowl agreement between two major conferences in the U.S.

Orange Bowl
Held each year in Miami, the Orange Bowl is the second-oldest bowl game in the country. The first Orange Bowl game was held on Jan. 1, 1935 with Bucknell University winning against University of Miami 26-0. The first transmission of a wire photo across the United States by the Associated Press happened at this game. In 1965, the Texas Longhorns upset the Alabama Crimson Tide 21-17 in the first night game in Orange Bowl history. The Orange Bowl has a partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference through the 2025 season, making it the home of the ACC champion.

Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl debuted with the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1935 in a game that saw Tulane University beat Temple University 20-14. Named for the industry its host state is known for, the Sugar Bowl is played at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. In 2006, the game was held outside of the state for the first and only time due to the extensive damage Hurricane Katrina left on the Superdome. A current partnership has the Sugar Bowl hosting the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 conferences eight of the 12 years between 2014 and 2025. During the other four seasons, the Sugar Bowl will serve as the College Football Playoff Semifinal.

Cure Bowl
Already home to the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Orlando introduced a third bowl game on Dec. 19, 2015. The inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl hosted San Jose State and Georgia State while also promoting breast cancer awareness and research. On Dec. 17, 2016, the Cure Bowl will host winning teams from the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference. Just like last year, proceeds will directly fund individual breast cancer researchers through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation where .91 of every dollar donated is spent on research. On game day, Florida Hospital’s Cure Village be held adjacent to the stadium, where fans can receive free mammograms.

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