Ever wonder why college bowl games have such ridiculous names? Well, sit back, relax, and get some snacks, because I did the research so you don’t have to. (It took me two hours to look up all of these games on Wikipedia so it wasn’t incredibly hard research but a lot of scrolling.)
Myrtle Beach Bowl: 2020 is the first year this game has been played. It has tie-ins with Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, and the Sun Belt Conference. The fact that its inaugural game was yesterday explains why it doesn’t have a sponsor yet. I’m sure random companies are just waiting in the wings to pounce on adding their name to the bowl game.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: If we weren’t in a global pandemic and they could probably serve concessions at the game, I really hope all they serve is different variations of potatoes. This game has had a bunch of weird sponsors, like Crucial Technology, MPC Computers, Roady’s Truck Stops, uDrove, and now the Idaho Potato Commission. This game is also played at Boise State University and that’s the one with the cool blue field!
RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: So RoofClaim.com is a roof repair company that appears to have service areas across the south and midwest. Their logo is a bit Walmart-y with the smiley as the dot in the “i”. It also bothers me that their company name is RoofClaim.com; not like it’s RoofClaim and RoofClaim.com is their website domain. Overall I get a very ’90s vibe from them. The Boca Raton Bowl’s previous sponsor was Cheribundi, which is a New York based beverage company that sells cherry juice beverages.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: R+L Carriers is a freight shipping and logistics company that has a website that hasn’t been updated in 20 years. I mean, they even have “mobile” website option in the footer. That’s real old school. The company is based in Ohio, so not 100% sure why they’re sponsoring a game in Louisiana.
Montgomery Bowl: Takes place in Montgomery, Alabama. Pretty self-explanatory. It was announced in October 2020 as a substitute for the Fenway Bowl for this year only.
New Mexico Bowl: It’s normally played at Dreamstyle Stadium on the campus of the University of New Mexico but this year’s game is scheduled to be played in Frisco, Texas. So maybe it should be renamed the New Mexico Bowl in Frisco, Texas?
Camellia Bowl: This game features teams from the Sun Belt Conference and Mid-American Conference and was first played in 2014. It’s named after the camellia, which is the Alabama state flower.
Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: So fun fact: this game was originally played at the St. Petersburg Bowl at the Trop in St. Petersburg—that’s incredibly unfortunate—and it was renamed in 2017 as the Gasprailla Bowl as a nod to the legend of José Gaspar, a mythical pirate who supposedly operated in the Tampa Bay area back in the 1700s and 1800s. Huh. I honestly would have never guessed anything close to that. This is the first year Union Home Mortgage is sponsoring the game; for the last few years, it was Bad Boy Mowers and this game was one of my favorite named bowl games: Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
Cure Bowl: This game is played in Orlando, Florida, started in 2015, and is named to promote awareness and research of breast cancer, with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In 2019 FBC Mortgage became the title sponsor, so it’s officially known as the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl.
Servpro First Responder Bowl: This specific bowl game has gone through a bunch of sponsor and name changes since its first game in 2011: Dallas Football Classic, TicketCity Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCaptial Bank, Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, and now the Servpro First Responder Bowl.
LendingTree Bowl: This is another bowl game that has seen its fair share of sponsors. I sure hope it doesn’t have attachment problems. Since 1999, sponsors have included Mobile Alabama Inc., GMAC (now Ally Financial), GoDaddy, Dollar General, and now LendingTree.
Cheez-It Bowl: Alright, so I thought the last two saw a lot of last name changes. Enter the Cheez-It Bowl. It’s had 11 name changes since its inaugural game in 1990: Sunshine Classic, Blockbuster Bowl, Carquest Bowl, MicronPC Bowl, MicronPC.com Bowl, Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl, Mazda Tangerine Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Camping World Bowl, and now Cheez-It Bowl. The fact that Blockbuster was once a sponsor definitely shows the bowl’s age.
Valero Alamo Bowl: This game is played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, so the Alamo part makes since. Valero has been a sponsor since 2007 and the partnership is in place until 2025.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Yeah, for real, this bowl game is named after a mayonnaise company. (And no, mayonnaise isn’t an instrument.) Duke’s Mayo is the new sponsor for this year and is the third-largest mayonnaise brand in the US, behind Hellmann’s and Kraft. You may have known this bowl as the Belk Bowl since 2011.
TransPerfect Music City Bowl: TransPerfect is a translation, E-Discovery, and language services company based in New York City. This is their first year sponsoring the bowl. From 2010-2019, Franklin American Mortgage was the main sponsor of the Music City Bowl. For 2020 through 2025, this bowl has tie-ins with the Big Ten and SEC.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: AKA the Cotton Bowl, this game has been played since 1937. It was founded in Dallas at the Texas State Fair Grounds and was financed by an oil executive. That feels incredibly Texas to me. Since 2014, the game has been sponsored by Goodyear. The Cotton Bowl has served as one of the six bowl games in the College Football Playoff (CFP) since 2014.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: This bowl game features teams from a variety of conference and the independent (not part of an NCAA-affiliated conference) U.S. Army is eligible to participate. Since 2014, Lockheed Martin—one of the largest companies in aerospace, military support, security, and technologies—has been the sponsor; additionally, Armed Forces Insurance is the official insurance partner of the game and has sponsored the Great American Patriot Award which is presented at halftime.
Arizona Bowl: Hey, this one takes place in Arizona! The first five games of the bowl were sponsored by NOVA Home Loans but they declined to renew its sponsorship for this year.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: This game has been played since 1959 and has been played in Philadelphia and Atlantic City before landing in Memphis, Tennessee, where it’s played now. AutoZone is Memphis-based, so it’s the hometown company supporting a bowl game.
Mercari Texas Bowl: This bowl game began in 2006 and has had the following names: Texas Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Texas Bowl (yes, again), AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, and now Mercari Texas Bowl. Mercari is a Japanese e-commerce company.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: This is another classic bowl game, having its first game played in 1968. The name of this bowl was the Peach Bowl—it’s played in Georgia— from 1968 to 1996 before Chick-fil-A became the title sponsor. From 1997-2005, it was called the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and then “Peach” was dropped from 2006-2013. “Peach Bowl” was re-added once it was announcement the bowl would be one of the six CFP bowls.
Vrbo Citrus Bowl: This bowl game was established in 1947, and that means it’s had plenty of name changes: Tangerine Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl, Ourhouse.com Florida Citrus Bowl, Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s, and now Vrbo Citrus Bowl.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: This is the sixth oldest bowl, being held continuously since 1946, and was the first one ever televised nationally. TaxSlayer has been the main sponsor since 2012. Other sponsors over the years have included Outback Steakhouse, Toyota, Konica Minolta, and Progressive Insurance.
Outback Bowl: So this is where Outback Steakhouse took its sponsorship after it told the Gator Bowl bye in 1994. This bowl game was originally called the Hall of Fame Bowl from 1986 to 1994 before being renamed in 1995 for its new title sponsor.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Oh, this bowl has had a handful of fun names thanks to the wide variety of sponsors it’s had over the years: Fiesta Bowl, Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, Fiesta Bowl (again), IBM OS/2 Fiesta Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Vizio Fiesta Bowl, BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, and PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl is a member of the CFP and the winner of the Fiesta Bowl faces the winner of the Peach Bowl.
Capital One Orange Bowl: This is the second-oldest bowl game in the country. It’s been played annually on since 1935 in Florida, is part of the New Year’s Six, and is one of the six bowls in the CFP. Since 2006, the Orange Bowl has been exclusively tied with the ACC; it hosts the ACC champion in the years it’s not hosting a CFP semifinal, unless the ACC champion is chosen for the CFP. Fun fact: From 1936 to 2001, the Orange Bowl Committee also sponsored a parade; it was brought to an end in 2002 after dwindling attendance and lack of sponsors for floats. Capital One has been a title sponsor of the Orange Bowl since 2014.
Rose Bowl: This is the country’s oldest bowl game; it was first played in 1902 and has been played annually since 1916. It’s part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Associations’ New Year Celebration, which includes the Rose Parade. As of 2021, the game is sponsored by Capital One and officially known as the Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One. (This makes them the first company to sponsor two New Year’s Six bowl games.) The Rose Bowl is part of the CFP and when it’s not hosting a semifinal, it takes the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions. For the game on January 1, 2021, the game has been moved from Pasadena to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas because if it were to be played in California, there would be no fans allowed. Because, you know, COVID. It’s not clear if it’ll still be called the Rose Bowl. (My beloved No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will be playing in this game against No. 4 Notre Dame.)
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Like the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl has been played since 1935. It was started to basically rival the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, both of which played on New Year’s Day. Ever wonder why the Sugar Bowl is called the Sugar Bowl? In the 1920s, Louisiana—where the bowl takes place—was the nation’s leader in producing sugar. The Sugar Bowl is part of the CFP and hosts one of the semifinal games every three seasons. Unlike a lot of the other bowl games, the Sugar Bowl has only had three sponsors: USF&G (1988-1995), Nokia (1996-2006), and Allstate (2006-present).
The following annual games were cancelled for 2020:
- Redbox Bowl
- Bahamas Bowl
- Hawaii Bowl
- Holiday Bowl
- Quick Lane Bowl
- Pinstripe Bowl
- Sun Bowl
- Las Vegas Bowl
- Frisco Bowl
- Independence Bowl
- Birmingham Bowl
- Guaranteed Rate Bowl
- Military Bowl
Many of these bowl games were cancelled due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and/or lack of available teams to play.
So after spending half of my afternoon researching these games and the origins of their names, I think my favorite bowl game is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. I mean, it’s sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission, which is a marketing board that represents the potato growers in Idaho. Who doesn’t love potatoes?!
Based on the list above, which are your favorite bowl game names?