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The Fiesta Bowl, now sponsored by Frito-Lay and named with their Tostitos brand, is a United States college football bowl game played annually at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Between its origination in 1971 and 2006, the game was hosted in Tempe, Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium. Previous sponsors included Sunkist and IBM.

In 1998, the Fiesta Bowl became part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), and before 2007 every four years (most recently in 2003) was the designee for the national championship game.



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 bowl tie-in for the Western Athletic Conference champion.

The 1971 inaugural game featured another top-ten Arizona State squad against top-twenty opponent Florida State. 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 it 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 Western Athletic Conference ended.


The game continued to attract high quality matchups, so beginning with the 1981 game the Fiesta Bowl shifted to New Year's Day with the other major bowl games.

A major breakthrough occurred in 1986 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—the Cotton, Orange, Sugar and Rose--had contracts with the major conferences whose champions were guaranteed selection. 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. The Fiesta Bowl won the bidding and the game was set to be played on January 2, a day after the "big four" bowls.

The 1987 Fiesta Bowl was won by Penn State 14–10 over Miami, and drew the largest television audience of any game in the history of college football. 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.


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. With the demise of the Southwestern Conference in 1995, the Cotton Bowl lost its status as a major bowl hosting a top-tier conference champion, and the Fiesta Bowl replaced it by picking up the conference champion of the new Big 12 Conference. In 1996, it hosted the Bowl Alliance National Championship game featuring undefeated #1 Nebraska playing undefeated #2 Florida for the National Championship. 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.


In 2002, the Fiesta Bowl had the right to take 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 Conference, 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 and Pac-10 champion (Texas and Southern California, respectively) qualified for the National Championship Game (USC's participation has since been vacated).[1]

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. Since that game, the Buckeyes have returned to the Fiesta Bowl three times, beating Kansas State in 2004, beating Notre Dame in 2006, and losing to Texas in the 2009 game. All but the 2006 games were against Big 12 schools, with the 2006 game being against an independent which is located in Big Ten territory and thus has been mentioned as a potential Big Ten expansion candidate.

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 have tie-ins, while all of the other conferences do not). The 2005 game saw undefeated Utah become the first non-BCS school ever to play in a BCS game, easily defeating Big East champion Pittsburgh 35–7.

2006 Fiesta Bowl, the last Fiesta Bowl game in Sun Devil Stadium

In 2007, the Fiesta Bowl game was played for the first time at the new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, across the Valley of the Sun from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The BCS agreement now stipulated that the Fiesta Bowl hosts the Big 12 Conference champions unless they are involved in the BCS national championship game.

File:Adrian Peterson OUvsBSU.jpg

2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State vs. Oklahoma; January 1, 2007, the first Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium

On January 1, 2007, 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.[2]

On January 2, 2008, the Fiesta Bowl game was played for the second year at the new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The game again pitted Big-12 champion #3 Oklahoma against the Big East champion #9 West Virginia. West Virginia beat Oklahoma, 48–28.

The 2010 Fiesta Bowl took place on January 4, 2010. The BCS #6 Boise State defeated the BCS #4 TCU by the score of 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.

The 2011 Fiesta Bowl took place on Saturday, January 1 at 8:30 PM ET. The Big 12 Conference Champion Oklahoma Sooners took on Big East Conference Champion Connecticut Huskies. The #7 Oklahoma Sooners, led by coach Bob Stoops, came off a 5 game losing streak in BCS bowls while the Connecticut Huskies, led by coach Randy Edsall, played in their first BCS game. The Sooners won the match, 48-20. Less than 24 hours after the game, Edsall left Arizona without the Huskies to take the head coaching job with the Maryland Terrapins.

The 2012 Fiesta Bowl took place on Monday, January 2. The Big 12 Conference Champion Oklahoma State Cowboys, ranked third in the nation went up against Stanford Cardinal, ranked 4. Many Oklahoma State fans and even some experts had wanted them in the BCS National Championship game, but the Alabama Crimson Tide remained 2 in the nation. Oklahoma State won on an overtime field goal, after never having been ahead during regulation play.



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.[3] 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.[4]

Financial scandals

In 2009, 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.[5] Furthermore, as a non-profit organization, the Fiesta Bowl is prohibited from making political contributions of any kind.[6] 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."[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11][12]

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.[13]

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.[14] Junker goes to sentencing in late July 2012, facing up to 2.5 years in prison as the result of his plea.[15]


Template:Rellink As of the 2010-11 season, the game along with the rest of the BCS, exclusively airs on ESPN.[16] 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 1999-2006, the game aired on ABC as part of the first BCS package, and from 1996-1998 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.

Game results

Italics denote a tie game.
^ - Denotes Bowl Alliance Championship game
* - Denotes BCS National Championship Game

Date played Winning team Losing team notes
December 27, 1971 Arizona State 45 Florida State 38 notes
December 23, 1972 Arizona State 49 Missouri 35 notes
December 21, 1973 Arizona State 28 Pittsburgh 7 notes
December 28, 1974 Oklahoma State 16 BYU 6 notes
December 26, 1975 Arizona State 17 Nebraska 14 notes
December 25, 1976 Oklahoma 41 Wyoming 7 notes
December 25, 1977 Penn State 42 Arizona State 30 notes
December 25, 1978 Arkansas 10 UCLA 10 notes
December 25, 1979 Pittsburgh 16 Arizona 10 notes
December 26, 1980 Penn State 31 Ohio State 19 notes
January 1, 1982 Penn State 26 Southern California 10 notes
January 1, 1983 Arizona State 32 Oklahoma 21 notes
January 2, 1984 Ohio State 28 Pittsburgh 23 notes
January 1, 1985 UCLA 39 Miami 37 notes
January 1, 1986 Michigan 27 Nebraska 23 notes
January 2, 1987 Penn State 14 Miami 10 notes
January 1, 1988 Florida State 31 Nebraska 28 notes
January 2, 1989 Notre Dame 34 West Virginia 21 notes
January 1, 1990 Florida State 41 Nebraska 17 notes
January 1, 1991 Louisville 34 Alabama 7 notes
January 1, 1992 Penn State 42 Tennessee 17 notes
January 1, 1993 Syracuse 26 Colorado 22 notes
January 1, 1994 Arizona 29 Miami 0 notes
January 2, 1995 Colorado 41 Notre Dame 24 notes
January 2, 1996^ Nebraska 62 Florida 24 notes
January 1, 1997 Penn State 38 Texas 15 notes
December 31, 1997 Kansas State 35 Syracuse 18 notes
January 4, 1999* Tennessee 23 Florida State 16 notes
January 2, 2000 Nebraska 31 Tennessee 21 notes
January 1, 2001 Oregon State 41 Notre Dame 9 notes
January 1, 2002 Oregon 38 Colorado 16 notes
January 3, 2003* Ohio State 31 Miami 24 (2 OT) notes
January 2, 2004 Ohio State 35 Kansas State 28 notes
January 1, 2005 Utah 35 Pittsburgh 7 notes
January 2, 2006 Ohio State 34 Notre Dame 20 notes
January 1, 2007 Boise State 43 Oklahoma 42 (OT) notes
January 2, 2008 West Virginia 48 Oklahoma 28 notes
January 5, 2009 Texas 24 Ohio State 21 notes
January 4, 2010 Boise State 17 TCU 10 notes
January 1, 2011 Oklahoma 48 Connecticut 20 notes
January 2, 2012 Oklahoma State 41 Stanford 38 (OT) notes
January 3, 2013 Oregon 35 Kansas State 17 notes
January 1, 2014 UCF 52 Baylor 42 notes
December 31, 2014 Boise State 38 Arizona 30 notes
January 1, 2016 Ohio State Notre Dame notes

Game MVPs

Date played MVPs Team Position
December 27, 1971 Gary Huff Florida State QB
Junior Ah You Arizona State DE
December 23, 1972 Woody Green Arizona State HB
Mike Fink Missouri DB
December 21, 1973 Greg Hudson Arizona State SE
Mike Haynes Arizona State CB
December 28, 1974 Kenny Walker Oklahoma State RB
Phil Dokes Oklahoma State DT
December 26, 1975 John Jefferson Arizona State WR
Larry Gordon Arizona State LB
December 25, 1976 Thomas Lott Oklahoma QB
Terry Peters Oklahoma CB
December 25, 1977 Matt Millen Penn State LB
Dennis Sproul Arizona State QB
December 25, 1978 James Owens UCLA RB
Jimmy Walker Arkansas DT
December 25, 1979 Mark Schubert Pittsburgh K
Dave Liggins Arizona S
December 26, 1980 Curt Warner Penn State RB
Frank Case Penn State DE
January 1, 1982 Curt Warner Penn State RB
Leo Wisniewski Penn State NT
January 1, 1983 Marcus Dupree Oklahoma RB
Jim Jeffcoat Arizona State DL
January 2, 1984 John Congemi Pittsburgh QB
Rowland Tatum Ohio State LB
January 1, 1985 Gaston Green UCLA TB
James Washington UCLA DB
January 1, 1986 Jamie Morris Michigan RB
Mark Messner Michigan DT
January 2, 1987 D.J. Dozier Penn State RB
Shane Conlan Penn State LB
January 1, 1988 Danny McManus Florida State QB
Neil Smith Nebraska DL
January 2, 1989 Tony Rice Notre Dame QB
Frank Stams Notre Dame DE
January 1, 1990 Peter Tom Willis Florida State QB
Odell Haggins Florida State NG
January 1, 1991 Browning Nagle Louisville QB
Ray Buchanan Louisville FS
January 1, 1992 O.J. McDuffie Penn State WR
Reggie Givens Penn State OLB
January 1, 1993 Marvin Graves Syracuse QB
Kevin Mitchell Syracuse NG
January 1, 1994 Chuck Levy Arizona RB
Tedy Bruschi Arizona DE
January 2, 1995 Kordell Stewart Colorado QB
Shannon Clavelle Colorado DT
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

Appearances by Team

Rank Team Appearances Record
T1 Penn State 6 6-0
T1 Arizona State 6 5-1
T1 Ohio State 6 4-2
T1 Nebraska 6 2-4
5 Oklahoma 5 2-3
T6 Florida State 4 2-2
T6 Notre Dame 4 1-3
T6 Pittsburgh 4 1-3
T6 Miami 4 0-4
T10 Colorado 3 1-2
T10 Tennessee 3 1-2
T12 Boise State 2 2-0
T12 Oklahoma State 2 2-0
T12 Arizona 2 1-1
T12 Kansas State 2 1-1
T12 Syracuse 2 1-1
T12 Texas 2 1-1
T12 West Virginia 2 1-1
T12 UCLA 2 1-0-1
T20 Louisville 1 1-0
T20 Michigan 1 1-0
T20 Oregon 1 1-0
T20 Oregon State 1 1-0
T20 Utah 1 1-0
T20 TCU 1 0-1
T20 Arkansas 1 0-0-1
T20 Alabama 1 0-1
T20 BYU 1 0-1
T20 Connecticut 1 0-1
T20 Florida 1 0-1
T20 Missouri 1 0-1
T20 Southern California 1 0-1
T20 Stanford 1 0-1
T20 Wyoming 1 0-1

Game records

Team Performance vs. Opponent Year
Most points scored 62, Nebraska vs. Florida (24) 1996
Fewest points allowed 0, Arizona vs. Miami (29) 1994
First downs 33, Texas vs. Ohio State
33, Arizona State vs. Missouri
Rushing yards 524, Nebraska vs. Florida 1996
Passing yards 458, Louisville vs. Alabama 1991
Total yards 718, Arizona State vs. Missouri 1972
Individual Performance, Team vs. Opponent Year
Total Offense 431, Browning Nagle, Louisville vs. Alabama (39 plays) 1991
Rushing Yards 245, Marcus Dupree, Oklahoma vs. Arizona State (17 att., 0 TD) 1983
Rushing TDs 4, Woody Green, Arizona State vs. Missouri 1972


  1. "Oregon clinches berth in Fiesta Bowl; National title still a possibility", The Seattle Times, November 17, 2001. 
  2. Thamel, Pete. "Playbook Full of Tricks Gives Boise State Dramatic and Defining Victory", The New York Times, 2007-01-02. Retrieved on 2007-01-02. 
  3. 1996 AP archives. December 11, 1996. Honolulu Star-Bulletin
  4. Weinreb, Michael. The Night College Football Went To Hell. Retrieved on 2010-01-03.
  5. Fiesta Bowl employees say bowl repaid political contributions.
  6. Fiesta Bowl Scandal Causes Stir.
  7. Fiesta Bowl finds no wrongdoing after allegations of illegal political donations.
  8. Murphy, Austin, and Dan Wetzel, "Does It Matter?", Sports Illustrated, 15 November 2010, p. 45.
  9. Final Report.
  10. "Fiesta Bowl fires CEO John Junker", AP, March 29, 2011, 
  11. BCS confident it could cut ties with Fiesta Bowl if deemed necessary
  12. Wetzel, Dan, "BCS conducts shallow probe as party rages on", Yahoo! Sports, retrieved on 31 March 2011.
  13. Associated Press, "Fiesta Bowl names new president", Japan Times, 15 June 2011, p. 15.
  14. Harris, Craig (February 22, 2012). Former Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker pleads guilty to felony. Arizona Republic. Retrieved on June 8, 2012.
  15. Harris, Craig (May 22, 2012). Sentencing postponed for former Fiesta Bowl exec Wisneski. Arizona Republic. Retrieved on June 8, 2012.
  16. Fox pulls out of bidding for next round of BCS games

External links