Football season is finally here and (let’s be honest) you already know we couldn’t be more excited. It’s 2017, a big year for football and an even bigger year for our Bowl. We’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary in Music City and to commemorate the occasion, we’ve compiled a list of some of The Bowl’s most exciting moments. So sit back, relax, and take a step back in time to revisit some of our very favorite moments in The Bowl’s history:
Picture a completely sold out crowd. Not a dry seat in the house. Alabama head-to-head with Virginia Tech. This was Alabama’s first bowl game after an agonizing 3-year probation, but they came out of the darkness and into the light of The Bowl. Virginia Tech remembers this particular bowl game as their “coming-out party” … and what a party it was! Tech took home the W with a jaw-dropping score of 38-7.
First year quarterback, Eli Manning, took the field for Ole Miss with no regrets. In the second half, after having trailed 35-9, Manning rallied with 12 of 20 completed passes for a total of 167 yards and three scoring drives. He wowed the crowd and served his legacy justice with 22 unanswered points. Though West Virginia still came out on top in the end (49-38), Ole Miss left the bowl with their heads held high. The win was extra meaningful to West Virginia, who honored their retiring coach, Don Nehlen, with one last victory.
At the 2007 game, the legendary Bobby Bowden and his Florida State Seminoles sold out our stadium in a historically fast time. The Seminoles took on the Wildcats with 25 players suspended. Do you remember it? Did you watch? Since it was the Seminole’s first time in Nashville, Bowden’s curious odds (and his many winning seasons) had everyone’s attention. Ultimately, Florida State fell short and Kentucky walked away with the W. What a wild ride it was!
The Vanderbilt Commodores felt right at home in the 2008. It was their first appearance in a bowl game since 1982, and on their home territory no-less. Call it history. Call it a comeback. Not only did they break their no-bowl streak, but they also took home the trophy, upsetting Boston College 16-14. The Commodores turned one of Boston’s three turnovers into a touchdown – marking their territory in The Bowl’s history books.
Controversial penalties. Double over-time. Record attendance and record TV ratings. Tennessee trailed North Carolina by one field goal, and this bowl game had the stands packed and the roar of the crowd could be heard all the way to Rocky Top. In the end, the Volunteers took an unapologetic loss to the Tar Heels, but the fight will never be forgotten.
The year Notre Dame won it all after a long back-and-forth battle with LSU. It was a close game all the way through, and the largest lead taken was only three points. Hear that? ONLY. THREE. POINTS. At the very last second, Notre Dame kicked the winning field goal to take home the trophy. The crowd’s energy was unforgettable by the end of this record-breaking bowl game; we broke ten different records that day in Music City!
We all remember the year MVP, Lamar Jackson, made his name famous in this bowl game. Jackson showed up and impressed the nation with the yards he gained and the passes he completed. His most impressive feat? A 61-yard touchdown run. This bowl game set Jackson up for his 2016 Heisman year, while leading Louisville to their first Music City Bowl game victory. Oh, 2015… What a time to be alive!
Before 2016, the Vols took home their last victory here in Music City with a 38-24 win. It was also the first-time Nebraska made it to Nashville, and Nissan Stadium was filled to the brim. Derek Barnett broke Tennessee’s all-time sack record, blowing pass Nebraska’s Reggie White, and leaving everyone open-mouthed and jaw-dropped. Who could forget Josh Dobbs ending his Volunteer career with a 59-yard touchdown? He gained his team 14 winning points, and broke a Music City record in the process.