Orange Bowl

2007 Orange Bowl

Congratulations to all the players in the 2006-07 Orange Bowl, and especially to the Louisville Cardinals, who finished the seesaw battle with a 24-13 win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Orange Bowl was a huge event for both schools: some 40,000 Louisville fans made it to Dolphin Stadium as did the biggest-ever crowd of Wake Forest alums (over 17,000, from a private North Carolina school with a student body under 4,400) Among the fans of each school were Arnold Palmer, a Wake Forest graduate, and Muhammed Ali, a native of Louisville, who participated in the coin toss, along with NBA star Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

Never mind any preseason predictions: Wake Forest and Louisville are the teams that went out and won the two championships that got them to this prestigious member of the BCS bowls -- the FedEx Orange Bowl. Now get your Orange Bowl tickets and be at Dolphin Stadium in sunny Miami to cheer on the Big East Conference Champion Louisville Cardianls or the Atlantic Coast Conference Champion Wake Forest Demon Deacons!

The college football bowl season has only a few truly longtime star performers, but certainly the Orange Bowl is among them. Once the Rose Bowl established itself on the West Coast, it was no surprise that other groups would follow the formula. The first city to take on the challenge of hosting a major bowl game was Miami, in January of 1933, and in 1935, their game became the Orange Bowl.

Miami inaugurated its football game as part of the Miami Palm Festival, and it was such a hit that it earned its own stadium, named the Orange Bowl to match the game and the Rose Bowl, for the 1938 spectacular. As the second-oldest bowl game, as well as the second-most-recognized football stadium for college play, the Orange Bowl developed a fan base willing to buy as many tickets as there were seats.

In a fairly obvious move designed to sell local tickets, the Orange Bowl officially began with the 1935 appearance of the University of Miami (Florida), though they lost 26-0 to Bucknell. Southern schools figured in all of the early games, but it was not until 1946 that another Florida team appeared, when Miami University beat Holy Cross, 13-6.

Beginning in 1953, the champion of the Big Eight Conference received an automatic invitation to play an at-large invitee in the Orange Bowl. This lasted until 1963, and was the norm again from 1975 to 1994. Apart from those years, Big Eight teams appeared frequently but were not guaranteed a slot.

As the 'other' early January bowl game, the Orange Bowl chose to distinguish itself in 1965 by shifting to night play. As the first major bowl game to do so, the Orange Bowl set the tone for the future of nonstop televised bowl games by choosing an unused time slot. The move succeeded, and the Orange Bowl has been known as the principal night bowl game since then.

In more recent history, the Orange Bowl accepted sponsorship by Federal Express in 1989, and is now known as the FedEx Orange Bowl. This move did not change the basic structure of the game, which continued to be dominated by appearances by Miami University, Florida State and the University of Florida. Nebraska has been a popular opponent, appearing six times in the 1990s.

As part of the Bowl Championship Series, the FedEx Orange Bowl used to be in the rotation to hold the National Championship game. Starting in 2007, it will be part of determining which teams appear in the BCS Championship for the national title. So, if you get tickets to the Orange Bowl, you may be witnessing an outstanding Florida team at work, or you may have a seat at one of the most-watched games of the college football season.


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