|Previous stadiums||Arizona Stadium (1989–1999)
Bank One Ballpark (2000–2005)
Sun Devil Stadium (2006–2015)
|Previous locations||Tucson, Arizona (1989–1999)
Phoenix, Arizona (2000–2005)
Tempe, Arizona (2006–2015)
|Conference tie-ins||Big 12, Pac-12|
|Previous conference tie-ins||WAC (1990–1997)
Big 12 (1998–2001)
Big East (1998–2005)
|Payout||US$3.35 million per team (as of 2015)|
Copper Bowl (1989)
Domino's Pizza Copper Bowl (1990–1991)
Weiser Lock Copper Bowl (1992–1995)
Copper Bowl (1996)
Insight.com Bowl (1997–2001)
Insight Bowl (2002–2011)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (2012–2013)
TicketCity Cactus Bowl (2015)
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (2016, 2 games)
|Boise State vs. Baylor (Baylor 31–12)|
|UCLA vs. Kansas State (December 26, 2017)|
Originally played as the Copper Bowl from inception through 1996, it was known as the Insight.com Bowl from 1997 through 2001, then the Insight Bowl from 2002 through 2011, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for 2012 and 2013, and then the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl for 2016. The Cactus Bowl name has been in use since 2015. There was no game played during calendar year 2014 due to the schedule date moving from December to January; the game was played twice during 2016, due to the schedule date moving back to December.
When the bowl was initially founded, it was played at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, on the campus of the University of Arizona. In 2000, the organizers moved the game from Tucson to Phoenix. There, it was played at what is now known as Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball. For the 2006 season, the bowl moved a second time. After the annual Fiesta Bowl left Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe in favor of playing in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the Cactus Bowl (still known as the Insight Bowl) was relocated there as a permanent replacement.
The Cactus Bowl is temporarily being played at its previous home of Chase Field in Phoenix while Sun Devil Stadium undergoes renovations. The renovations are being undertaken during the offseason, requiring Arizona State to close the stadium at the conclusion of football season through 2017. During this time, the game is one of three bowl games played in baseball-specific stadiums; the Gasparilla Bowl, played at Tropicana Field, and the Pinstripe Bowl, played at Yankee Stadium, are the others.
"Cactus Bowl" had been the originally planned name for what became the Copper Bowl in 1989. The game was played under the Copper Bowl name through 1996, after which title sponsorship rights were assumed by Insight Enterprises, who self-titled the game from 1997 through the 2011. In 2012, restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings became the sponsor and self-titled the game for two years. Buffalo Wild Wings declined to renew sponsorship following the 2013 game, at which time organizers opted to rename the game "Cactus Bowl" rather than reverting to the Copper Bowl name. There had been a Texas-based Cactus Bowl played in Division II, however that game was discontinued after 2011. For 2014, TicketCity sponsored the new Cactus Bowl, and Motel 6 became the sponsor in 2015.
For the first ten years, the game was played at Arizona Stadium, on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. In 2000, the bowl's organizers moved the game to Bank One Ballpark, a baseball-specific stadium, in downtown Phoenix. In 2006, the game moved to Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University in Tempe to replace the Fiesta Bowl, which had moved to University of Phoenix Stadium in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. The 2006 game set a record (since tied in the 2016 Alamo Bowl) for the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I FBS bowl history, as Texas Tech came back from a 38–7 third-quarter deficit to defeat Minnesota 44–41 in overtime.
Before 2006, the game mainly featured teams from the Pac-10, WAC, Big 12, and old Big East conferences. Starting in 2006, it began featuring an annual matchup between teams from the Big Ten and the Big 12. Starting with the 2015 game, it has featured a matchup between Pac-12 and Big 12 teams, contingent on bowl eligibility. Teams from the ACC and MW have also competed, along with teams from the now defunct SWC and Big Eight, and one independent school (Notre Dame in 2004).
For the first three playings of the Copper Bowl, TBS carried the game. Beginning in 1992 and continuing until the 2005 playing, the game aired on ESPN. After a four-year hiatus, during which NFL Network carried the game, ESPN regained the rights beginning in 2010.
Two MVPs are selected for each game; one an offensive player, the other a defensive player.
In three instances (1992, 1994, and 1995) offensive co-MVPs were named, along with one defensive MVP.
Texas is the only current Big 12 school to have never played in this bowl. Seven of the current Big 12 schools have appeared multiple times. Former Big 12 members Colorado and Missouri have appeared in the bowl, but former Big 12 members Nebraska and Texas A&M have not.
|Date||Network||Play-by-play announcers||Color commentators||Sideline reporters|
|2001||Nevada Sports Network|
|2008||Sports USA||Eli Gold||John Robinson and Tony Graziani|
|2009||Westwood One||Kevin Kugler||Terry Donahue|
|2010||ESPN Radio||Bill Rosinski||David Norrie||Joe Schad|
|2011||Bill Rosinski||David Norrie||Joe Schad|
|2012||Bill Rosinski||David Norrie||Joe Schad|
|2013||Bill Rosinski||David Norrie||Joe Schad|
|2015||Mark Neely||David Diaz-Infante||Dave Shore|
|2016 (Jan.)||Drew Goodman||David Díaz-Infante||David Diaz-Infante|
|2016 (Dec.)||Clay Matvick||Dusty Dvoracek||Dawn Davenport|
|2017||Marc Kestecher||Tom Ramsey||Desmond Purnell|
Wins by conference
|Pac-10 / Pac-12||10||7||3||.700|
- "College Bowl Game Payouts". statisticbrain.com. 2015.
- Bolch, Ben. "UCLA to play Kansas State in Cactus Bowl". LA Times. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
- McMurphy, Brett (May 4, 2015). "Cactus Bowl moving to Chase Field for next three seasons". ESPN.com.
- "New bowl game seeking sponsor, TV pact". The Tuscaloosa News. 1988-08-13. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
- "Insight Bowl loses its title sponsor after 15 years,". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- "Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl loses sponsorship". azcentral. 16 June 2014.
- "TicketCity gets Cactus Bowl naming rights for Cactus Bowl in Tempe". Phoenix Business Journal. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
- "Motel 6 inks naming rights deal for Cactus Bowl". Phoenix Business Journal. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- "Down 31, Texas Tech rallies for biggest bowl comeback". Associated Press. December 29, 2006. Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2006 – via ESPN.