How the College Bowl Games got their Names

A history lesson

Ahead of the College Football Bowl game season, we break down how some of the more memorable games got their names.  

Rose Bowl

At the inaugural East-West game in 1902, Stanford was absolutely dominating the lowly Michigan team. But then, in the final minutes of the game, Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost got down on his knee and presented Stanford coach Charles Fickert with a single red rose. Fickert’s heart melted, and he agreed to fudge the scores so that Michigan won 49-0. Their love is celebrated with the annual football tradition.

Sugar Bowl

In 1927, sportswriter Fred Digby was cheating on his strict diet by sneaking a little spoonful of sugar, and he remarked “Mmm, I love this sugar bowl!” His wife Mary overheard, and Fred had to frantically pretend he was talking about some kind of football thing. Luckily, she bought it! Fred later died from hyperglycemia.

Orange Bowl

The first Orange Bowl was the Bucknell Bisons vs the Miami Hurricanes. Take a look at their logos. Notice anything they have in common?

Cotton Bowl

Texas oil executive J. Curtis Sanford financed the first Cotton Bowl out of his own pocket in 1937. He announced that the game should be called the Cotton Bowl, as all the players were wearing cotton underpants. Everyone thought that was kinda weird, but hey, he was paying for it.

Peach Bowl

In the early 1950s, Nintendo attempted to launch a video game called Mario College Football. The final level was going to be called the Peach Bowl, after Princess Peach. Sadly the game was a failure, because Japanese people don’t care about college football, and also because video games didn’t exist yet. In 1968 the NCAA bought the rights to the Peach Bowl for ten billion dollars, finally giving Nintendo enough money to create the world’s first video game console… the PlayStation 5.

Fiesta Bowl

The Fiesta Bowl isn’t just named after the concept of fiestas. It’s actually named after a specific fiesta: Sanfermines, an annual celebration in the Spanish city of Pamplona, most famous for the running of the bulls. The first-ever Fiesta Bowl occurred in 1971, and it was the Arizona State Sun Devils versus a herd of wild bulls. Incredibly the Sun Devils won the game 45-38. To be fair, all the players had swords.

Cheez-It Bowl

This game was first held in 1990, during the height of prohibition. The stadium was Florida's largest speakeasy, and the players would openly swig from bottles of moonshine during the game. There was even a special teams position called "the lookout", whose job was to peek out the door of the stadium in case any cops showed up. If this happened, they would yell "Cheez-it, the fuzz!" and everyone would run away. Prohibition ended, but the name stuck.

Alamo Bowl

Nobody remembers.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

This game used to be called the Humanitarian Bowl, to honor great humanitarians like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. In 2011, the name was changed to honor the greatest humanitarian of all: the humble potato. The potato is responsible for saving millions of lives from starvation, as it is a nutritious and hardy crop. But this was specifically named after one famous potato from Idaho, who gained superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive aphid and stopped a giant asteroid from crashing into Boise.

First Responder Bowl

This was also named after the famous potato from Idaho.

LendingTree Bowl

This game was named in honor of one of America's greatest writers, Shel Silverstein. It was supposed to be named after his iconic children's story, “The Giving Tree,” but the Alabama schooling system isn't great.

Texas Bowl

It takes place in Texas. What are you, an idiot?

(Note: the same naming convention applies to the LA Bowl, Hawai'i Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl, etc. It does not apply to the Sun Bowl, which takes place on Earth, and is named after Gary Sun, who invented the Sun.)


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