Liberty Bowl

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Liberty Bowl
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Auto Zone Liberty Bowl logo.png
Stadium Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Location Memphis, Tennessee
Previous stadiums John F. Kennedy Stadium (1959–1963)
Convention Hall (1964)
Previous locations Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1959–1963)
Atlantic City, New Jersey (1964)
Operated 1959–present
Conference tie-ins Big 12 #4 Pick[1] vs SEC Pool Pick[2]
The American (alternate)[3]
Previous conference tie-ins C-USA (1996–2013)
MWC (1998–2005)
winner of the Commander in Chief's Trophy (1989–1992)
Payout US$2,400,000[4] (As of 2014)
St. Jude (1993-1996)
AXA Financial (1997–2003)
AutoZone (2004–present)
Former names
Liberty Bowl (1959-1992)
St. Jude Liberty Bowl (1993-1996)
AXA Liberty Bowl (1997–2003)
2016 matchup
Georgia vs. TCU (Georgia 31–23)
2017 matchup
TBD[5] (December 30, 2017)

The Liberty Bowl is an annual U.S. American college football bowl game played in late December or early January since 1959. Since 1965, the game has been held at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. For its first five years, it was played in Philadelphia. Since 2004, the game has been sponsored by Memphis-based auto parts retailer AutoZone. Because of the scheduling of the bowl game near the end of the calendar year, no game was played during calendar years 2008 or 2015, while two games were played in calendar years 2010 and 2016.


A. F. "Bud" Dudley, a former Villanova athletic-director, created the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia in 1959. The game was played at Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium. It was the only cold-weather bowl game of its time, and was plagued by poor attendance. The inaugural game was the most successful of the five held in Philadelphia, as 38,000 fans watched Penn State beat Alabama 7–0 in 1959.

A group of Atlantic City businessmen convinced Dudley to move his game from Philadelphia to Atlantic City's Convention Hall for 1964 and guaranteed Dudley $25,000.[6] It would be the first major (University Division, now Division I) bowl game played indoors. AstroTurf was still in its developmental stages and was unavailable for the game. Convention Hall was equipped with a 4-inch-thick (100 mm) grass surface with two inches of burlap underneath it (as padding) on top of concrete. To keep the grass growing, artificial lighting was installed and kept on 24 hours a day. The entire process cost about $16,000. End-zones were only 8 yards long. 6,059 fans saw Utah rout West Virginia. Dudley was paid $25,000 from Atlantic City businessmen, $60,000 from the gate, and $95,000 from television revenues, for $10,000 net profit.[6]

Dudley moved the game to Memphis in 1965, where it has made its home at what became Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to much larger crowds and has established itself as one of the oldest non-BCS bowls.


During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Liberty Bowl offered an automatic invitation to the winner of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, if that team was bowl eligible.[7]

Beginning in 1996, the Liberty Bowl began an affiliation with the newly-launched Conference USA, offering its champion an automatic bid. Beginning in 2005, the winner of C-USA was determined by the newly-created C-USA championship game. The winner of that game was customarily offered the bowl berth from 2005-2013.

In 1996 and 1997, the opponent for the C-USA champion was a team from the Big East. In 1998, the Liberty Bowl replaced the Holiday Bowl in a shared contract with the Cotton Bowl and had second choice between the WAC champion and a team from the SEC. From 1999 to 2005, the opponent for the C-USA champion was the Mountain West champion. There were two exceptions:

  • 2004: Mountain West champion Utah qualified for the BCS. In their place, the Liberty Bowl chose WAC champion Boise State.
  • 2005: Mountain West champion TCU chose to play in the Houston Bowl. At-large WAC team Fresno State took their place.

In 1999, the Mountain West Conference did not have an outright champion, as three teams tied for the conference lead. The conference's bid for the game was given to Colorado State.

The bowl's contract from 2006 until 2013 pitted the winner of the C-USA championship game against the eighth pick from the SEC. The American was to provide its fifth-place team as an alternate if the SEC could not provide a team. The SEC was also given veto power for the bowl, and elected to use it in 2011 to block C-USA champion Southern Miss from playing Vanderbilt; instead Cincinnati got the spot and Southern Miss accepted an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl instead.[8][9]

Since 2014, the matchup features a team from the SEC against the #4 pick from the Big 12 Conference. The Liberty Bowl is part of a six-bowl SEC pool arrangement that also involves the Belk, Music City, Outback, TaxSlayer, and Texas bowls; these bowls will choose one representative from the conference each, while the College Football Playoff receiving first choice (usually the Sugar Bowl in years it does not serve as a national semifinal) and the Citrus Bowl second choice.

The game is televised nationally on ESPN, and is carried nationwide by ESPN Radio, and internationally by ESPN International.

Recent matchups of note[edit]

The 2010 win by UCF was the program's first-ever bowl victory.

The 2011 game matched Coaches' Poll #24 ranked Cincinnati against upstart Vanderbilt, and unlike most lower tier bowls, it aired on the broadcast network ABC rather than its cable brethren ESPN. Cincinnati defeated Vanderbilt in a second-half comeback.

The 2012 Liberty Bowl featured a matchup between the Iowa State Cyclones (9th place in the Big 12) and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Conference USA champions).[10] Iowa State defeated Tulsa 38–23 in the season's first weekend, however Tulsa defeated Iowa State 31–17 in the rematch of the regular season game.[10] Though the bowl normally selects a team from the SEC, it invited Iowa State because the SEC did not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of its contracted bowl games.[11]

Game results[edit]

Boise State and Louisville square off in the 2004 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.
Date Played Winning Team Losing Team Notes
December 19, 1959 Penn State 7 Alabama 0 notes
December 20, 1960 Penn State 41 Oregon 12 notes
December 16, 1961 Syracuse 15 Miami (Florida) 14 notes
December 15, 1962 Oregon State 6 Villanova 0 notes
December 21, 1963 Mississippi State 16 North Carolina State 12 notes
December 19, 1964 Utah 32 West Virginia 6 notes
December 18, 1965 Ole Miss 13 Auburn 7 notes
December 10, 1966 Miami 14 Virginia Tech 7 notes
December 16, 1967 North Carolina State 14 Georgia 7 notes
December 14, 1968 Ole Miss 34 Virginia Tech 17 notes
December 13, 1969 Colorado 47 Alabama 33 notes
December 12, 1970 Tulane 17 Colorado 3 notes
December 20, 1971 Tennessee 14 Arkansas 13 notes
December 18, 1972 Georgia Tech 31 Iowa State 30 notes
December 17, 1973 North Carolina State 31 Kansas 18 notes
December 16, 1974 Tennessee 7 Maryland 3 notes
December 22, 1975 USC 20 Texas A&M 0 notes
December 20, 1976 Alabama 36 UCLA 6 notes
December 19, 1977 Nebraska 21 North Carolina 17 notes
December 23, 1978 Missouri 20 LSU 15 notes
December 22, 1979 Penn State 9 Tulane 6 notes
December 27, 1980 Purdue 28 Missouri 25 notes
December 30, 1981 Ohio State 31 Navy 28 notes
December 29, 1982 Alabama 21 Illinois 15 notes
December 29, 1983 Notre Dame 19 Boston College 18 notes
December 27, 1984 Auburn 21 Arkansas 15 notes
December 27, 1985 Baylor 21 LSU 7 notes
December 29, 1986 Tennessee 21 Minnesota 14 notes
December 29, 1987 Georgia 20 Arkansas 17 notes
December 28, 1988 Indiana 34 South Carolina 10 notes
December 29, 1989 Ole Miss 42 Air Force 29 notes
December 27, 1990 Air Force 23 Ohio State 11 notes
December 29, 1991 Air Force 38 Mississippi State 15 notes
December 31, 1992 Ole Miss 13 Air Force 0 notes
December 28, 1993 Louisville 18 Michigan State 7 notes
December 31, 1994 Illinois 30 East Carolina 0 notes
December 30, 1995 East Carolina 19 Stanford 13 notes
December 27, 1996 Syracuse 30 Houston 17 notes
December 31, 1997 Southern Miss 41 Pittsburgh 7 notes
December 31, 1998 Tulane 41 BYU 27 notes
December 31, 1999 Southern Miss 23 Colorado State 17 notes
December 29, 2000 Colorado State 22 Louisville 17 notes
December 31, 2001 Louisville 28 BYU 10 notes
December 31, 2002 TCU 17 Colorado State 3 notes
December 31, 2003 Utah 17 Southern Miss 0 notes
December 31, 2004β Louisville 44 Boise State 40 notes
December 31, 2005 Tulsa 31 Fresno State 24 notes
December 29, 2006 South Carolina 44 Houston 36 notes
December 29, 2007 Mississippi State 10 UCF 3 notes
January 2, 2009 Kentucky 25 East Carolina 19 notes
January 2, 2010 Arkansas 20 East Carolina 17 notes
December 31, 2010 UCF 10 Georgia 6 notes
December 31, 2011 Cincinnati 31 Vanderbilt 24 notes
December 31, 2012 Tulsa 31 Iowa State 17 notes
December 31, 2013 Mississippi State 44 Rice 7 notes
December 29, 2014 Texas A&M 45 West Virginia 37 notes
January 2, 2016 Arkansas 45 Kansas State 23 notes
December 30, 2016 Georgia 31 TCU 23 notes
Mountain West Conference champion Utah was released from their contractual obligation to the Liberty Bowl after earning a BCS berth in 2004. Western Athletic Conference champion Boise State took Utah's place.



Appearances by team[edit]

Previous logos[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]