The Fiesta Bowl is an American college football bowl game played annually in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Between its origination in 1971 and 2006, the game was hosted in Tempe, Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium. Since 2007, it has been held at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Since 2016, it has been sponsored by PlayStation and officially known as the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. For the January 2016 game, it was sponsored by BattleFrog, creators of the obstacle racing series featured in the ESPN program BattleFrog College Championship and Vizio for the December 2014 game. From 1996 through the January 2014 game, Frito-Lay was the bowl's title sponsor through its Tostitos tortilla chip brand. Other previous sponsors include IBM (1993–1995) and Sunkist (1986–1990).
In 1998, the Fiesta Bowl became part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), and before 2006 every four years (most recently in 2010) was the designee for the national championship game. Beginning with the 2014 season, Fiesta Bowl became a member of College Football Playoff, hosting a semifinal game every three years; all the teams playing in this bowl will be selected by the CFP Selection Committee in those years.Contents
The Fiesta Bowl was born from the Western Athletic Conference's frustrated attempts to obtain bowl invitations for its champions. In 1968 and 1969 respectively, champions Wyoming and Arizona State failed to secure any bowl selection. The next year, undefeated Arizona State was bypassed by the major bowls and had to settle for an appearance in the less prestigious Peach Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl therefore initially provided an automatic berth for the WAC champion.1970s
In its first decade of existence, the Fiesta Bowl was played in the last week of December (including the afternoon of Christmas Day from 1976 to 1979). The 1971 inaugural game featured another top-ten Arizona State squad against top-twenty opponent Florida State. The 1974 game featured WAC champ BYU and their new coach, future Hall of Fame member LaVell Edwards in their first ever bowl game vs. Oklahoma State. BYU was in control until BYU's first All-American quarterback Gary Sheide went down with a leg injury and eventually lost 16–6. By 1975, the game was able to attract Big Eight co-champion Nebraska to play undefeated Arizona State in a matchup of top-five teams. In 1977, the game was again able to attract a top-five opponent in Penn State, despite WAC champion #16 BYU refusing to play in the bowl due to its being held on Sunday.
In 1978, Arizona and Arizona State both joined the Pac-10 Conference and the Fiesta Bowl's tie-in with the WAC ended as its champ went to the newly-inaugurated Holiday Bowl. From then until the advent of the Bowl Coalition, Fiesta Bowl matchups typically featured runners-up of major conferences and/or major independents.1980s
The game continued to attract high quality matchups, so beginning with the 1981 game the Fiesta Bowl shifted to New Year's Day alongside the major bowl games—the Cotton, Orange, Sugar, and Rose. The Fiesta Bowl was the first bowl game to acquire a title sponsor when it became the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl starting with the 1986 game.
A major breakthrough occurred after the 1986 season when the top two teams in the country, Miami and Penn State, agreed to play for the de facto national championship in the Fiesta Bowl. At the time, the traditional four "major" bowl games granted automatic bids to their conference champions. Both Miami and Penn State were independents at that time, and were thus free to choose a bowl. As such, the Fiesta Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl, each free from the obligation of conference tie-ins, vied to host the Miami–Penn State matchup in order to ensure that they would meet on the field. The Fiesta Bowl won the bidding and the game was set to be played on January 2, 1987—a day after the "big four" bowls. Penn State won 14–10 over Miami, and the game drew the largest television audience in the history of college football at the time. Two years later, #1 Notre Dame played undefeated #3 West Virginia for the national championship at the 1989 Fiesta Bowl.
The 1987 and 1989 games were two of four straight matchups of teams ranked in the AP Top 10 going into the bowl season to close out the 1980s. This significantly increased the Fiesta Bowl's prestige, to the point that it was now considered a major bowl by many fans and pundits.1990s
Before the 1991 game, several major universities declined invitations due to the State of Arizona's decision at that time not to adopt the Martin Luther King Holiday. However, in 1992, the Fiesta Bowl was invited to participate in the Bowl Coalition, a predecessor to the Bowl Championship Series. This assured the game would feature major conference champions or prestigious runners-up and cemented its status as a major bowl. When the Bowl Coalition was reconfigured as the Bowl Alliance, the Fiesta was included as one of the three top games.
In 1996, it hosted the Bowl Alliance National Championship game featuring undefeated #1 Nebraska playing undefeated #2 Florida for the national championship. Nebraska won the game 62–24, the largest win margin in the history of the national championship game, and the most points ever scored in a national championship game. Finally, with the addition of the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences to the new Bowl Championship Series, the Fiesta Bowl became a permanent fixture in the four-year BCS National Championship Game rotation. In 1998, the Fiesta Bowl featured the first BCS National Championship Game, which Tennessee won over Florida State, 23 to 16.
Starting with the 1999 season, the Fiesta Bowl began hosting the Big 12 Conference champion in years when it was not slated as the BCS title game, an arrangement that continued to the end of the BCS era.2000s 2006 Fiesta Bowl, the last Fiesta Bowl game in Sun Devil Stadium
In 2002, the Fiesta Bowl had the right to take the Pac-10 Conference Champion, should that team not reach the Rose Bowl, which served as the national championship game that season. Oregon failed to qualify for the championship game, and thus played Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. A similar arrangement was made for the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. However, instead of gaining the Pac-10 Conference champion in addition to their usual tie-in with the Big 12, the Fiesta Bowl would have had a choice of the two teams. This turned out to be a moot point as both the Big 12 champion Texas and Pac-10 champion Southern California qualified for the National Championship Game (USC's participation has since been vacated).2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State vs. Oklahoma; January 1, 2007, the first Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium
The BCS National Championship game returned to the Fiesta Bowl in 2003 with the Big Ten champions Ohio State Buckeyes beating the Big East champions Miami Hurricanes in the first overtime national championship game. The game went into double overtime with the Buckeyes coming out on top 31–24 to claim the 2002 national championship.
The Fiesta Bowl was the first BCS bowl to have had an entry from outside the parameters of the BCS (the Big 12, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Southeastern Conference (SEC), Pac-10, Big East, and Notre Dame had tie-ins, while all of the other conferences did not). The 2005 game saw undefeated Utah from the Mountain West Conference become the first BCS non-AQ school ever to play in a BCS game, easily defeating Big East champion Pittsburgh 35–7.
In 2007, the Fiesta Bowl game was played for the first time at the new then-named University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, across the Phoenix metropolitan area from Sun Devil Stadium. The undefeated Boise State Broncos won by defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 43–42 in overtime. It has been called one of the greatest college football games ever played, due to the combination of an underdog team, trick plays, comebacks by each team, and a thrilling overtime finish.2010s
The 2010 Fiesta Bowl featured #6 Boise State defeating #4 TCU, 17-10. It was the first time a BCS bowl matched-up two non-automatic qualifying teams (i.e. two teams from conferences without automatic BCS bids) and the first time that two teams who went undefeated faced each other in a BCS game outside of the national championship. In the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma State defeated Stanford 41–38. Notable players included Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon for Oklahoma State, and Andrew Luck for Stanford.
The December 2016 Fiesta Bowl served as a semifinal for the College Football Playoff. The Fiesta Bowl will host a semifinal, alongside the Peach Bowl, again in 2019, 2022, and 2025.
In November 2016, PlayStation was announced as the bowl's new title sponsor.Controversies Invitations
In 1996, a group of students from Brigham Young University, led by BYU professor Dennis Martin, burned bags of Tostitos tortilla chips in a bonfire and called for a boycott of all Tostitos products. This came after #5 ranked BYU was not invited to play in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl in favor of #7 ranked Penn State. This event is one of those referred to by proponents of college football implementing a playoff series rather than the controversial Bowl Alliance. Penn State went on to win the game over #20 Texas 38–15, while BYU defeated #14 Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl Classic 19–15.
For the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, the selections of TCU and Boise State caused a great deal of controversy. For the first and only time in the BCS era, two BCS non-AQ teams were chosen to play in BCS bowls in the same bowl season: however, they ended up facing each other in this bowl. Because both non-AQ teams were placed in the same bowl game, the bowl was derisively referred to as the "Separate But Equal Bowl", the "Quarantine Bowl", the "Fiasco Bowl", the "BCS Kids' Table", etc. Some had called for a boycott because of this. There was wide speculation that the BCS bowl selection committees maneuvered TCU and Boise State into the same bowl so as to deny them the chances to "embarrass" two AQ conference representatives in separate bowls, as Boise State had done in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and Utah had done in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and 2009 Sugar Bowl (prior to the game, non-AQ teams were 3–1 versus AQ teams in BCS bowls). In response, Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker called those allegations "the biggest load of crap that I've ever heard in my life" and said that "We're in the business of doing things that are on behalf of our bowl game and we don't do the bidding of someone else to our detriment." Beyond the unappealing nature of a "David vs. David" contest which resulted from this pairing in a major bowl, the appeal was further diminished due to the fact that it was a rematch of the Poinsettia Bowl from the previous bowl season.Financial scandals
In 2009, in the weeks prior to the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, past and present Fiesta Bowl employees alleged that they were encouraged to help maintain its position as one of the four BCS bowls by making campaign contributions to politicians friendly to the Fiesta Bowl, with those contributions subsequently reimbursed to the employees. If true, this would be a violation of both state and federal campaign finance laws. Furthermore, as a non-profit organization, the Fiesta Bowl is prohibited from making political contributions of any kind. The Fiesta Bowl commissioned an "independent review" which found "no credible evidence that the bowl's management engaged in any type of illegal or unethical conduct."
The following year, in a November 2010 article, Sports Illustrated reported that Fiesta Bowl officials, including bowl CEO John Junker, spent $4 million since 2000 to curry favor from BCS bigwigs and elected officials, including a 2008 "Fiesta Frolic", a golf-centered gathering of athletic directors and head coaches. The journal also reported that Junker's annual salary was close to $600,000 and that the bowl, in 2007 turned an $11.6 million profit. While these alleged activities are not illegal, they did result in considerable damage to the reputation of the Fiesta Bowl.
On March 29, 2011, the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors released a 276-page "scathing internal report", commissioned by them to re-examine the accusations of illegal political activities. The commission determined that $46,539 of illegal campaign contributions were made and the board immediately fired Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker, who had already been suspended pending the results of this investigation. The scandal threatened the Fiesta Bowl's status as a BCS game, as the BCS said it might replace the bowl in its lineup if officials could not convince them it should remain. The BCS ultimately chose not to expel the Fiesta Bowl, instead fining the organization $1 million.
In June 2011 University of Arizona president Robert Shelton was hired to replace Junker. On February 22, 2012, former CEO John Junker pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge in the campaign financing matter, and two members of his former staff pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. Junker was to be sentenced soon after, facing up to 2.5 years in prison as the result of his plea, but as of January 2014 his sentencing has been repeatedly postponed in return for cooperation in other cases. In March 2014, Junker was sentenced to eight months in prison, with the sentence starting on June 13, 2014; he was released on February 11, 2015. On March 20, 2014, Junker was sentenced to three years of probation on state charges.Broadcasting See also: Fiesta Bowl broadcasters
As of the 2010–11 season, the game along with the rest of the BCS, exclusively airs on ESPN. From 2007 through 2010, Fox telecast the game along with the other BCS games – the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, and BCS National Championship Game from 2006 though 2009, while only the Rose Bowl and the 2010 BCS National Championship Game aired on ABC in that period. From 1999 to 2006, the game aired on ABC as part of the first BCS package, and from 1996 to 1998 the game aired on CBS as part of its bowl coverage. Prior to that, NBC aired the game for several years. This game, along with the Orange Bowl, is one of only two bowl games ever to air on all the "Big 4" broadcast television networks in the United States.
ESPN Radio is the current radio home for the Fiesta Bowl.
In 2013, ESPN Deportes provided the first Spanish U.S. telecast of the Fiesta Bowl.Parade
In addition to the game, the annual Bank of Arizona Fiesta Bowl Parade takes place in downtown Phoenix, which includes marching bands from high schools as well as the two universities participating in the Fiesta Bowl and the two universities participating in the Cactus Bowl, along with floats, equestrian units, and a seven-member queen and court. It started back in 1973. Past Grand Marshals include many celebrities from sports and entertainment.Game results
Rankings are based on the AP Poll prior to the game being played. Italics denote a tie game.Date played Winning team Losing team Notes December 27, 1971 #8 Arizona State 45 Florida State 38 Notes December 23, 1972 #15 Arizona State 49 Missouri 35 Notes December 21, 1973 #10 Arizona State 28 Pittsburgh 7 Notes December 28, 1974 Oklahoma State 16 #17 BYU 6 Notes December 26, 1975 #7 Arizona State 17 #6 Nebraska 14 Notes December 25, 1976 #8 Oklahoma 41 Wyoming 7 Notes December 25, 1977 #8 Penn State 42 #15 Arizona State 30 Notes December 25, 1978 #8 Arkansas 10 #15 UCLA 10 Notes December 25, 1979 #10 Pittsburgh 16 Arizona 10 Notes December 26, 1980 #10 Penn State 31 #11 Ohio State 19 Notes January 1, 1982 #7 Penn State 26 #8 USC 10 Notes January 1, 1983 #11 Arizona State 32 #12 Oklahoma 21 Notes January 2, 1984 #14 Ohio State 28 #15 Pittsburgh 23 Notes January 1, 1985 #14 UCLA 39 #13 Miami (Florida) 37 Notes January 1, 1986 #5 Michigan 27 #7 Nebraska 23 Notes January 2, 1987 #2 Penn State 14 #1 Miami (Florida) 10 Notes January 1, 1988 #3 Florida State 31 #5 Nebraska 28 Notes January 2, 1989 #1 Notre Dame 34 #3 West Virginia 21 Notes January 1, 1990 #5 Florida State 41 #6 Nebraska 17 Notes January 1, 1991 #18 Louisville 34 #25 Alabama 7 Notes January 1, 1992 #6 Penn State 42 #10 Tennessee 17 Notes January 1, 1993 #6 Syracuse 26 #10 Colorado 22 Notes January 1, 1994 #16 Arizona 29 #10 Miami (Florida) 0 Notes January 2, 1995 #4 Colorado 41 Notre Dame 24 Notes January 2, 1996BA #1 Nebraska 62 #2 Florida 24 Notes January 1, 1997 #7 Penn State 38 #20 Texas 15 Notes December 31, 1997 #10 Kansas State 35 #14 Syracuse 18 Notes January 4, 1999BCS #1 Tennessee 23 #2 Florida State 16 Notes January 2, 2000 #3 Nebraska 31 #6 Tennessee 21 Notes January 1, 2001 #5 Oregon State 41 #10 Notre Dame 9 Notes January 1, 2002 #2 Oregon 38 #3 Colorado 16 Notes January 3, 2003BCS #2 Ohio State 31 #1 Miami (Florida) 24 (2 OT) Notes January 2, 2004 #7 Ohio State 35 #8 Kansas State 28 Notes January 1, 2005 #5 Utah 35 #19 Pittsburgh 7 Notes January 2, 2006 #4 Ohio State 34 #5 Notre Dame 20 Notes January 1, 2007 #9 Boise State 43 #7 Oklahoma 42 (OT) Notes January 2, 2008 #11 West Virginia 48 #3 Oklahoma 28 Notes January 5, 2009 #3 Texas 24 #10 Ohio State 21 Notes January 4, 2010 #6 Boise State 17 #3 TCU 10 Notes January 1, 2011 #9 Oklahoma 48 #25 Connecticut 20 Notes January 2, 2012 #3 Oklahoma State 41 #4 Stanford 38 (OT) Notes January 3, 2013 #5 Oregon 35 #7 Kansas State 17 Notes January 1, 2014 #15 UCF 52 #6 Baylor 42 Notes December 31, 2014 #21 Boise State 38 #12 Arizona 30 Notes January 1, 2016 #7 Ohio State 44 #8 Notre Dame 28 Notes December 31, 2016CFP #2 Clemson 31 #3 Ohio State 0 Notes December 30, 2017 #9 Penn State 35 #12 Washington 28 Notes
Date played MVPs Team Position January 2, 1996 Tommie Frazier Nebraska QB Michael Booker Nebraska CB January 1, 1997 Curtis Enis Penn State TB Brandon Noble Penn State DT December 31, 1997 Michael Bishop Kansas State QB Travis Ochs Kansas State LB January 4, 1999 Peerless Price Tennessee WR Dwayne Goodrich Tennessee CB January 2, 2000 Eric Crouch Nebraska QB Mike Brown Nebraska DB January 1, 2001 Jonathan Smith Oregon State QB Darnell Robinson Oregon State LB January 1, 2002 Joey Harrington Oregon QB Steve Smith Oregon DB January 3, 2003 Craig Krenzel Ohio State QB Mike Doss Ohio State SS January 2, 2004 Craig Krenzel Ohio State QB A. J. Hawk Ohio State OLB January 1, 2005 Alex Smith Utah QB Paris Warren Utah WR Steve Fifita Utah NG January 2, 2006 Troy Smith Ohio State QB A. J. Hawk Ohio State OLB January 1, 2007 Jared Zabransky Boise State QB Marty Tadman Boise State S January 2, 2008 Pat White West Virginia QB Reed Williams West Virginia OLB January 5, 2009 Colt McCoy Texas QB Roy Miller Texas DT January 4, 2010 Kyle Efaw Boise State TE Brandyn Thompson Boise State CB January 1, 2011 Landry Jones Oklahoma QB Jamell Fleming Oklahoma CB January 2, 2012 Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State WR Justin Gilbert Oklahoma State CB January 3, 2013 Marcus Mariota Oregon QB Michael Clay Oregon LB January 1, 2014 Blake Bortles UCF QB Terrance Plummer UCF LB December 31, 2014 Thomas Sperbeck Boise State WR Tanner Vallejo Boise State LB January 1, 2016 J.T. Barrett Ohio State QB Eli Apple Ohio State CB December 31, 2016 Deshaun Watson Clemson QB Clelin Ferrell Clemson DE December 30, 2017 Trace McSorley Penn State QB Marcus Allen Penn State S
Appearances by team
Only teams with at least three appearances are listed.Rank Team Appearances Record 1 Ohio State 8 5–3 2 Penn State 7 7–0 T3 Arizona State 6 5–1 T3 Nebraska 6 2–4 T5 Oklahoma 5 2–3 T5 Notre Dame 5 1–4 T7 Florida State 4 2–2 T7 Pittsburgh 4 1–3 T7 Miami 4 0–4 T10 Boise State 3 3–0 T10 Arizona 3 1–2 T10 Colorado 3 1–2 T10 Kansas State 3 1–2 T10 Tennessee 3 1–2 Appearances by conference
Through the December 2017 playing, there have been 47 games (94 total appearances).Rank Conference Appearances Won Lost Tied Pct. 1 Independents[n 1] 20 10 10 0 .500 T2 Pac-12[n 2] 12 6 5 1 .542 T2 Big 12 12 5 7 0 .417 T4 Big Ten 11 8 3 0 .727 T4 Big Eight 11 4 7 0 .364 6 WAC 9 6 3 0 .667 7 The American[n 3] 8 3 5 0 .375 8 SEC 5 1 4 0 .200 9 Mountain West 3 2 1 0 .667 10 ACC 2 1 1 0 .500 11 SWC 1 0 0 1 .500