Notable Russell Athletic Bowls
The Russell Athletic Bowl has been seen in two different cities. Initially, it was held in Miami, Florida, but in 2001 it moved to the city of Orlando, where it has been ever since. Florida Citrus Sports, a not-for-profit organization, now organizes every aspect of this event. There have been some major upsets in this bowls 19-year history and some fantastic games. Here's a look at a few of them.
1990: Florida State vs. Penn State
This first Blockbuster Bowl saw number six Florida State (9-2) take on number seven Penn State (9-2). The Seminoles went ahead 10- 0 in the first quarter. The Seminoles were helped early on by Penn States' sloppy play, which included numerous dropped passes, fumbles and a blocked field goal attempt. In the second half, Florida State was in the lead 24- 10. But with 6:27 to go in the game, Penn State scored a TD and cut the Seminole lead to seven points. Then Florida State defense played extra tough. The Lions had a chance to tie the game with three minutes to go, but QB Tom Bill was intercepted on Florida State's one-yard line. Florida State ran out the clock. The final was 24- 17 in favor of the Seminoles.
1992: Penn State vs. Stanford
This Blockbuster Bowl brought together the highly favored 21st ranked Penn State (7-5) Nittany Lions and the Stanford Cardinal (9-3) team. Both teams had legendary coaches at the helm. The Nittany Lions were coached by the ageless Joe Paterno and the Cardinal club was under the guidance of the innovative Bill Walsh, who was the brain thrust behind the great San Francisco 49ers' teams. Walsh originally left Stanford in 1978 to coach the 49ers to three Super Bowl victories. Back at Stanford, Walsh worked his magic by engineering a productive offense and scheming a tough defense. The final score of the 1992 Blockbuster Bowl was 24- 3, with Stanford holding the Lions' offense to just 263 total yards. It was the first time since October 27, 1990, that Penn State did not score a touchdown in a game.
1999: Illinois vs. Virginia
MicronPC sponsored the game this year, which saw the Fighting Illini of Illinois take on the Virginia Cavaliers. In the regular season, Illinois had gone 7-4 overall and 4-4 in the Big 10 and had finished tied for sixth-place in the conference. The team had Kurt Kittner and his strong, accurate arm at the QB spot. Virginia at 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference had tied for second in the ACC. This was the second time that Illinois and Virginia met in a bowl game and it was the Illini's second bowl victory against the Cavaliers. But this was more than a victory. Illinois destroyed and annihilated their opponents 63- 21.
2005: Clemson vs. Colorado
In this Champs Bowl, the Clemson Tigers (7-4) played the Colorado Buffaloes (7-5). The Tigers were ranked 23rd in the nation and the Buffaloes had won the Big 12 North title. The game was a back-and-forth contest that would eventually see the favored Clemson team prevail.
Placekicker Jad Dean put Clemson ahead early in quarter one on a 26-yard field goal. Then Colorado's Mason Crosby came back with a 36-yard field goal. With the contest tied at three, Clemson's Dean kicked another three-pointer and Clemson had a 6–3 lead. That was the score at the half.
In the third quarter, Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst rushed for a five- yard touchdown. The Tigers held a 13–3 lead. In the fourth quarter, Buffalo QB Brian White threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Quinn Sipnieski. That cut Clemson's lead to 13–10. For the Tigers, James Davis added a 6-yard touchdown run to make the final margin of victory 19–10, Clemson.
2007: Boston College vs. Michigan State
This edition of the Champs Bowl saw the 10- 3 Boston College Eagles play the 7-5 Michigan State Spartans. This was a neck-and-neck battle until the end with the two teams tied in the first quarter 7-all and BC ahead at the half by a score of 14- 10. In the third, both teams kicked field goals. At the end of the third, the Eagles were up 17- 13. QB Matt Ryan, who proved to be an excellent pressure player throughout the season, led his team to victory in the fourth quarter. And although he tossed three TDs in the game, it was BC safety Jamie Silva who was the difference-maker. Silva, who was named the game MVP, notched two interceptions. Eagle “D” had four picks overall plus one fumble recovery.
In the fourth, BC was ahead 24- 13 when Ryan fumbled as he was sacked. Virginia drove for a TD and also made the two-point conversion. The score was 24- 21 and there was 6:04 left to go. But although Michigan had two more possessions, the Eagles stymied the Spartan offense. Michigan could not garner a first down on either possession and BC won the contest 24- 21.
The Russell Athletic Bowl continues to develop its reputation as a venue for competitive teams from top conferences. Premium play by first-rate college players is a goal for this bowl that has secured a niche in the pre-New Year's Day and Bowl Championship Series offerings.