What Were the Original College Football Bowl Games?

(Last Updated On: July 12, 2019)
What Were the Original College Football Bowl Games?

Maybe you’re a huge fan of sports and watch them religiously, or maybe you don’t really care too much about them. Regardless, if you live in North America, then you probably know how popular football is – especially college football. 

Each season, teams compete for a chance to play in the College Football Playoff (CFP) and to be crowned National Champions. But even those schools that don’t quite make the cut still get a chance to play in a post-season bowl game. 

You might already know a little bit about college football bowl games (and their sometimes odd names), but how much do your really know about the history behind them? What were the original college football bowl games, and how did they come about?

Think you already know the original college football bowl games? Take this quiz to find out!

What Were the Original College Football Bowl Games?

1. Rose Bowl – 1902

First played in 1902, the Rose Bowl was the first college football bowl game in history. It came about to help fund the cost of Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Originally called the “Tournament East-West football game”, it has been renamed and played annually ever since 1916. The game is played at the Rose Bowl stadium, typically on January 1st (though sometimes January 2nd). Being the oldest college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl is famously called “The Granddaddy of Them All”.

2. Orange Bowl – 1935

Next on the list is the Orange Bowl, which was originally played on January 1st, 1935 and has been played annually in stadiums in Miami ever since. Originally played at Miami Field, and then the Miami Orange Bowl in 1938, the location switched to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in 1996. The game ties as the second oldest in bowl history, with the Sugar and Sun Bowls. The Orange Bowl was born out of the short-lived Festival of Palms Bowl, which was created to be a Florida equivalent to California’s successful Rose Bowl.

3. Sugar Bowl – 1935

Also inspired by the success of the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl is an American bowl game that has been played annually since January 1st, 1935, tying for the position of second oldest. The game is currently played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans of Louisiana, but had been played at Tulane Stadium up until 1975. The Sugar Bowl has traditionally had a strong relationship with the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

4. Sun Bowl – 1935

Also tied for second oldest, the Sun Bowl is played annually in El Paso, Texas, at the Sun Bowl Stadium on the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) campus. Since 2010, the game has officially been known as the Hyundai Sun Bowl, as it’s sponsored by multinational automotive company Hyundai. The game has also been played at Jones Stadium and Kidd Field, both of which are located in El Paso.

5. Cotton Bowl – 1937

The first Cotton Bowl Classic was played in 1937 in Dallas, on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas, where its self-named stadium the Cotton Bowl was. The game has moved on to AT&T Stadium (previously known as Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas, and has been played annually ever since.The Cotton Bowl Classic has served as one of six bowls in the College Football Playoff since the 2014 season.

6. Gator Bowl – 1946

The Gator Bowl is an annual bowl game that’s operated by Gator Bowl Sports and is the sixth oldest game in American college bowl history. It was also the first to ever be televised nationally coast-to-coast. The game has been played at Gator Bowl Stadium and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium previously, before moving to its current home, TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game has been sponsored by TaxSlayer.com since 2012.

7. Citrus Bowl – 1947

Operated by non-profit group Florida Citrus Sports, the Citrus Bowl is an annual college bowl game that’s played at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. Originally played as the “Tangerine Bowl” in 1947, and renamed to the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1983, the game is also referred to as the VRBO Citrus Bowl as it’s currently being sponsored by VRBO. The game is typically played on New Year’s Day.

8. Liberty Bowl – 1959

Originally played in 1959 at the Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, the Liberty Bowl has gone through a couple of stadiums prior to being set at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Although it’s an annual game, no games were played in 2008 or 2015, but two games were played in 2010 and 2016. The current sponsor is auto parts retailer Autozone, and is known as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

9. Peach Bowl – 1968

Played in Atlanta since 1968, the Peach Bowl, also known as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as it’s sponsored by American restaurant Chick-fil-A, is an annual bowl game held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Peach Bowl has transitioned through various stadiums in Atlanta, including the Georgia Dome from 1993 to 2016, prior to setting on its current one. The game has donated over $32 million to charity since 2016.

10. Fiesta Bowl – 1971

The most recent of the 10 original college football bowl games, the Fiesta Bowl was first held in Arizona in 1971. The game was hosted in Tempe, Arizona, at Sun Devil Stadium until 2006. Today, it’s played annually at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and has been sponsored by PlayStation since 2016. The Fiesta Bowl became part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998, and today serves as part of the College Football Playoff.


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