Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

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Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (defunct)
Motor City Bowl
Little Caeasars Pizza Bowl.png
StadiumFord Field
LocationDetroit, Michigan
Previous stadiumsPontiac Silverdome (1997–2001)
Previous locationsPontiac, Michigan (1997–2001)
Conference tie-insBig Ten, MAC
Sun Belt (alternate)
PayoutUS$750,000 per team
Succeeded byQuick Lane Bowl
Ford (1997)
Ford, Chrysler, GM (1998-2007)
Ford, GM, UAW (2008)[1]
Little Caesars (2009–2013)
Former names
Ford Motor City Bowl (1997)
Motor City Bowl (1998–2008)
2013 matchup
Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (Pitt 30–27)

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (known as the Motor City Bowl until 2009) was a post-season college football bowl game that was played annually from 1997 to 2013. The first five games (1997–2001) were played at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, and moved to the 65,000-seat Ford Field in downtown Detroit, Michigan in 2002—the past and present homes of the Detroit Lions respectively. The game marked the first bowl game held in the Detroit area since the Cherry Bowl in 1984–85.

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl featured a bowl-eligible team from the Mid-American Conference (usually the winner of the MAC Championship Game, although that team was not required to accept the bid; prior to the formation of the bowl the MAC champion earned an automatic bid to the Las Vegas Bowl) playing a bowl-eligible team from the Big Ten Conference. If the Big Ten did not have an eligible team, the game featured a team from the Sun Belt Conference that met the NCAA requirement of at least six wins. In the event that the Sun Belt did not have an available team, an at-large team could be chosen.

The final Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was held in 2013; it was displaced by the Quick Lane Bowl, which is organized by the Detroit Lions and also features Big Ten and MAC opponents (though the ACC served as the Big Ten's opponent through 2019). Organizers explored the possibility of moving the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl to nearby Comerica Park as an outdoor game, but the game would instead be cancelled.


The Motor City Bowl started in 1997 at the Pontiac Silverdome.[2]

The game was jointly sponsored by the "Big Three" automakers in Detroit from 1998 to 2007 (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler). Starting with the 2008 game, Chrysler was replaced by the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights as a presenting sponsor. In 2009, Little Caesars became the title sponsor of the game after General Motors and Chrysler reorganized under bankruptcy protection. Ford remained as a sponsor.[3] In 2011, the three automakers, along with the UAW, began contributing $100,000 jointly to become presenting sponsors of the game.

Motor City Bowl logo.

A bowl record crowd of 60,624 fans witnessed the 2007 bowl game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Central Michigan Chippewas.

On April 12, 2010, it was announced that the Big Ten Conference had extended its affiliation with the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Big Ten no. 8) through the 2013 season. Also the Sun Belt Conference agreed to a secondary tie-in that would allow a Sun Belt Conference team to play in the Detroit-based game should the Big Ten Conference not have an available bowl-eligible team to play.

In August 2013, the Detroit Lions announced that it would hold a new bowl game at Ford Field beginning in 2014, between the Big Ten and an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent.[4][5] While Pizza Bowl organizers attempted to move the bowl to Comerica Park (which is owned by Little Caesars' parent company Ilitch Holdings) and convert it to an outdoor game, these plans never came to fruition.[6][7]

In August 2014, the Lions announced that the new game would be known as the Quick Lane Bowl, and that it would be held on the same day—December 26—that the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was traditionally held on.[2] In a statement to Crain's Detroit Business, Motor City Bowl executive director Ken Hoffman confirmed that "there is no Pizza Bowl for 2014. We will have to see about the future", implying that the game has been cancelled indefinitely in favor of the Quick Lane Bowl.[6] The MAC holds a secondary tie-in for the Quick Lane Bowl.[8]

Game results[edit]

Date Winning team Losing team Attendance Notes
December 26, 1997 Ole Miss 34 Marshall 31 43,340 notes
December 23, 1998 Marshall 48 Louisville 29 38,016 notes
December 27, 1999 #11 Marshall 21 BYU 3 52,449 notes
December 27, 2000 Marshall 25 Cincinnati 14 52,911 notes
December 29, 2001 #25 Toledo 23 Cincinnati 16 44,164 notes
December 26, 2002 Boston College 51 Toledo 25 45,761 notes
December 26, 2003 Bowling Green 28 Northwestern 24 51,286 notes
December 27, 2004[9] Connecticut 39 Toledo 10 52,552 notes
December 26, 2005[10] Memphis 38 Akron 31 45,801 notes
December 26, 2006[11] Central Michigan 31 Middle Tennessee 14 54,113 notes
December 26, 2007 Purdue 51 Central Michigan 48 60,624 notes
December 26, 2008 Florida Atlantic 24 Central Michigan 21 41,399 notes
December 26, 2009 Marshall 21 Ohio 17 30,331 notes
December 26, 2010 FIU 34 Toledo 32 32,431 notes
December 27, 2011 Purdue 37 Western Michigan 32 46,177 notes
December 26, 2012 Central Michigan 24 Western Kentucky 21 23,310 notes
December 26, 2013 Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 26,259 notes


Year MVP(s) Team Position
1997 Stewart Patridge Mississippi QB
1998 Chad Pennington Marshall QB
1999 Doug Chapman Marshall RB
2000 Byron Leftwich Marshall QB
2001 Chester Taylor Toledo RB
2002 Brian St. Pierre Boston College QB
2003 Josh Harris Bowling Green QB
Jason Wright Northwestern RB
2004 Dan Orlovsky Connecticut QB
2005 DeAngelo Williams Memphis RB
2006 Dan LeFevour Central Michigan QB
2007 Curtis Painter Purdue QB
2008 Rusty Smith Florida Atlantic QB
2009 Martin Ward Marshall RB
2010 T. Y. Hilton FIU WR
2011 Akeem Shavers Purdue RB
2012 Ryan Radcliff Central Michigan QB
2013 James Conner Pittsburgh RB

Appearances by team[edit]

There were 17 playings of the bowl (34 total appearances).

Teams with multiple appearances
Rank Team Appearances Record
1 Marshall 5 4–1
T2 Central Michigan 4 2–2
T2 Toledo 4 1–3
T4 Purdue 2 2–0
T4 Bowling Green 2 1–1
T4 Cincinnati 2 0–2
Teams with a single appearance

Won: Boston College, Connecticut, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Memphis, Mississippi, Pittsburgh
Loss: Akron, BYU, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Northwestern, Ohio, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan

Appearances by conference[edit]

End zone view during the 2007 edition of the bowl
Rank Conference Appearances Record Win % # of Teams Teams
1 MAC 17 7–10 .412 7 Marshall (3–1)

Central Michigan (2–2)
Toledo (1–3)
Bowling Green (1–1)
Akron (0–1)
Ohio (0–1)
Western Michigan (0–1)

2 C-USA 5 2–3 .400 Cincinnati (0–2)

Marshall (1–0)
Memphis (1–0)
Louisville (0–1)

3 Sun Belt 4 2–2 .500 4 FIU (1–0)

Florida Atlantic (1–0)
Middle Tennessee (0–1)
Western Kentucky (0–1)

4 Big Ten 3 2–1 .667 2 Purdue (2–0)

Northwestern (0–1)

5 Big East 2 2–0 1.000 2 Boston College (1–0)

Connecticut (1–0)

T6 ACC 1 1–0 1.000 1 Pittsburgh (1–0)
T6 SEC 1 1–0 1.000 1 Ole Miss (1–0)
T6 MWC 1 0–1 .000 1 BYU (0–1)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Sponsors and Sponsorship Opportunities". Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  2. ^ a b Shea, Bill (August 26, 2014). "New Ford Field college bowl game gets a name: Quick Lane Bowl". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  3. ^ [1] Archived September 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Report: Detroit Lions to host bowl game with Big Ten tie-in, Pizza Bowl getting dumped". Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Detroit Lions announce agreement with ACC for Bowl Game at Ford Field". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field canceled". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Little Caesars Pizza Bowl organizers open to playing outside; Detroit Lions bowl interest confirmed". Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  8. ^ "MAC, Quick Lane Bowl Agree To Backup Tie-In". Hustle Belt (SB Nation). Retrieved 2017-12-20.
  9. ^ Connecticut received the bid to play in this game as the Big Ten did not field enough teams to qualify for this game.
  10. ^ Memphis replaced the Big Ten and Big East teams as they did not have enough teams to qualify for this game.
  11. ^ The Big Ten did not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill their obligation to qualify for this game, so Middle Tennessee filled the Big Ten's spot.

External links[edit]