Remembering Defunct College Football Bowl Games


2020 will be a weird year for bowl games (the ones that are played). Over the last few years, the number of bowl games has continued to increase. As they have increased, some bowls have been eliminated and others have been re-branded.

Today, we reflect on those fallen bowl games who were taken from us too soon.

International Bowl (2007-2010)

When this game originated in 2007, it became the first bowl game to take place outside the USA since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Cuba. International Bowl was another way of saying the Canada Bowl, as the game was played in Toronto, Canada where baseball’s Blue Jays play.

In all four games, the old Big East conference defeated a team from the MAC.

Cincinnati, Rutgers, UConn, and South Florida were the very lucky teams that got to go to Canada and pick up bowl victories. Big East teams nearly doubled up the MAC, winning by an average score of 36-19.

Rutgers RB Ray Rice and UConn RB Donald Brown were the most notable MVPs from the bowl’s prestigious four game history.

The Bowl game was not renewed after the Big East opted into the new Pinstripe Bowl, taking away their affiliation with this game.

Miami Beach Bowl (2014-2016)

The only thing better than college football in Canada, is college football in a baseball stadium. The Pinstripe Bowl does it (in Yankees Stadium). The newly re-branded Cheez-It Bowl (previously the Cactus Bowl) plays in the Diamondbacks Stadium. And the bowl formerly known as Foster Farms/Kraft Food/Diamond Foods used to be at the SF Giants ballpark (now known as RedBox Bowl and takes place in Santa Clara where SF 49ers play).

And then there is the Miami Beach Bowl, played at the Miami Marlins Stadium. This game lasted just three years, from 2014-2016.

Absolutely horrible attendance and terrible sight-lines (this was built for baseball, not football) doomed this game from the start.

The AAC played in all 3 games and went 2-1. Memphis won an exciting inaugural game 55-48 against BYU, a game that ended in absolute mayhem. Don’t believe me? Read about how this game ended. 

The next two games would see Western Kentucky beat South Florida and Tulsa beat Central Michigan, in the final version in 2016. The winning team scored 55 points twice and 45 points once, so at least it was always high scoring!

In 2017, the AAC moved this game to Frisco, Texas and is now known as the Frisco Bowl.

If you take the attendance for these three years combined, you would get slightly more than the Miami Marlins 2018 overall season attendance.

Garden State Bowl (1978-1981)

Remember when everyone used to mock Rutgers for moving to the Big Ten? Wait…people still mock them? Right… So, they moved to the Big Ten because the conference wanted to ensure New York City had access to Big Ten Network but NYC is apparently the college sports hub of the world. This was never more untrue than it was from 1978-1981, when Giants Stadium hosted a bowl game.

A lack of local interest (DUH!) and freezing cold temperatures (the game was played around December 15th) led to this game’s demise.

Three of the four bowls did include schools within relative close proximity, but the opponents…oy. The first ever Garden State Bowl in 1978 featured Arizona State (yes, THAT Arizona State, the 90 degree Tempe, Arizona football team coming to freezing cold east) and beating the local school, which drove this game to begin with, Rutgers. California came east for the second game, losing to Temple and Houston beat Navy in the third game.

The final game in 1981 featured two high profile schools, neither of which had local ties, with Tennessee beating Wisconsin.

After the failure that was the Garden State Bowl, we now have a Pinstripe Bowl, at Yankees Stadium and Wisconsin, who helped shut down the Garden State Bowl, gets to return to NY for the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (1987-2013)

Who doesn’t love pizza? And who wouldn’t want to spend the Christmas holidays in Detroit, Michigan?

The MAC appeared in all 17 games, and their teams compiled a 7-10 record over that time. Marshall made the most appearances at 5 (4-1) and Central Michigan (3-1) and Toledo (2-2) each appeared 4 times.

Pittsburgh won the final game in 2013, beating Bowling Green. In that game, James Connor was named MVP. Other notable MVPs include FIU WR TY Hilton (2010), Memphis RB DeAngelo Williams (2005), and a pair of Marshall QBs, Byron Leftwich (2000) and Chad Pennington (1998).

The game ended as a result of a new bowl game created and hosted by the Detroit Lions, the Quick Lane Bowl, a much more appealing matchup between the Big Ten and ACC.

Sidenote: From 2006-2010, Little Caesars wasn’t the only “pizza bowl”. The game now known as the Birmingham was called the PapaJohn’s Bowl (correction, Bowl, can’t forget the valuable dot com part!). Like the International Bowl, the Big East went 4-0 in each of the four PapaJohn’s Bowls. In fact, the same four teams that won the International Bowl, won this game too (Cincinnati, USF, UConn, Rutgers).

Poinsettia Bowl (2005-2016)

Of all the games on this list, this is certainly the (legitamtely) most prestigious game. Poinsettia Bowl lasted 12 years and was played in San Diego.

The Mountain West played in all 12 years and those teams went 8-4. PAC-12 was the only “power 5” conference to ever put a team in this game – California lost to Utah (before Utah moved from MWC to Pac-12) in 2009. Navy made the most appearances in this game at 4 with TCU (3-0), San Diego State (1-2) and Northern Illinois (0-3) each making three appearances.

Notable MVPs included TCU QB Andy Dalton in 2008, San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman in 2010, Navy QB Keenan Reynolds in 2014, and current Packers RB Jamaal Williams of BYU in the final game in 2016. BYU won that final game 24-21 against Wyoming.

In 2017, the bowl’s sponsors, San Diego County Credit Union, decided to end this game, as the company also ran the Holiday Bowl, which takes place at the same venue, at SDCCU Stadium.

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