In the short history of the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama, two games have involved a wealth of scoring where 52 points were put on the board in each game.
In the inaugural year for the BBVA Compass Bowl, then played as the PapaJohns.com Bowl, the University of South Florida (USF) Bulls of the Big East met the East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates of Conference USA. There were 28,527 fans in attendance to watch the Bulls play in and win its first-ever bowl game. The Bulls won this game by playing tough defense and racking up points early in the game. Both teams scored all of their points in the initial half. The Bulls gained the advantage early and never gave it up.
On the second play, ECU quarterback James Pinkney was in the shotgun when he got a low snap on which he couldn't get a grip. The Bulls recovered on the 16 and Benjamin Williams ran the ball in to score on the team's first play from scrimmage. After the Pirates gave up the ball on downs, FSU drove 56 yards, capping the drive off with a one-yard jaunt by Williams for his second score of the game. The Bulls were up 14-0.
ECU then took the ball after the kickoff and drove 79 yards in nine plays. Pinkney connected with wideout Bobby Good on a 48-yard TD pass. The extra point was good. But that would be the end of the scoring for the Pirates. The rest of the scoring came in the second quarter when FSU signal caller Matt Grothe tosses a 37-yard TD to Amarri Jackson and when placekicker Delbert Alvarado booted a 38-yard field goal.
The Buls had six sacks and recovered two Pirate fumbles. They held EDU to just 54 yards on the ground. Although the Pirates were able to move the ball downfield, their drives either stalled or miscues caused them to lose the ball. The final for the first BBVA Compass Bowl was FSU 24 and ECU 7.
The second Birmingham contest was played between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. The Bearcats were led by QB Ben Mauk. Mauk had guided the team to a 9-win season. In the game, he threw for 334 yards and hit for four touchdowns. The Cats, who were 9-3, were ranked 23rd in the nation at the start of the game. The Golden Eagles had a regular season record of 7- 6 and were unranked.
But it didn't look promising for the Bearcats at the start as Southern Miss took the initial lead in the game on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Young to Shawn Nelson. However, in the second, Mauk rallied his troops and passed for two scores, hitting wideout Dominick Goodman both times on 14 and 5-yard tosses. The fact was that the Bearcats never trailed again.
For Southern Miss, running back Damion Fletcher set a local bowl record by rushing for 155 yards on 29 carries. That was against a Bearcat team that had allowed opponents and average of just 106 ground yards per game. The Golden Eagle quarterback threw two TD passes. Each QB tossed three picks (a Birmingham record).
But in the end, it was Mauk's MVP performance that was the difference maker as Cincinnati beat Southern Miss 31- 21.
The third Birmingham game was the closest as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights met the NC State Wolfpack. Although Rutgers would preserve in the end, the Knights QB Mike Teel would need to engineer a come-from-behind win for them to do so. By the end of the first half, the Wolfpack was ahead 17- 6.
It had been that kind of season for Teel, who had manufactured many a comeback. In the second half, Teel earned the games MVP award. He finished the game with two TD passes and 319 passing yards with 204 of those yards coming in the second half. Teel and company outscored the Wolfpack in the second half 23- 6, winning the game 29- 23.
But it wasn't just Teel and the offense. NC State lost one fumble and tossed three picks: all in the second half. The Pack totaled 363 yards of offense and the Knights garnered 437 for a total of 800 yards of total offense. As had occurred the year before, the total points scored by both teams came to 52. It was a wild one.
The BBVA Compass Bowl is certainly the new kid on the block when it comes to NCAA post-season contests. It looks to enjoy a long history as it has been able to give fans the opportunity to enjoy high-powered offenses that can put points on the board quickly and often.