Famous Orange Bowl Games

The Beginning
The first Orange Bowl game ever played is an important milestone in college football history. The game between Bucknell and Miami was a blowout as Bucknell easily overcame Miami with a 26-0 victory. The Associated Press had predicted the fledgling Miami team could be a pest for Bucknell, but no significant opposition was ever noted in Miami’s performance. Though a seemingly disappointing match-up, the first ever Orange Bowl got it all started in south Florida. The game was broadcast on CBS radio, and recognition for south Florida was amply raised during the inaugural year.

The 1946 game between Miami and Holy Cross was a game to remember from the era. Jack Harding led his Miami team to victory against Holy Cross, 13-6. The winning touchdown for Miami came after time had expired on an intercepted pass downfield. Crusader Gene DeFilippo threw a bomb to Bob Conway Downfield, who saw the ball deflected into the arms of defensive back Al Hudson. Hudson returned the ball 89 yards downfield for the winning touchdown. Time expired as Hudson crossed the 35, headed for the end zone.

In 1953, a milestone was reached in college football postseason history. The Orange Bowl Classic was played between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Syracuse. The Tide dominated Syracuse, winning the bowl 61-6. Many records fell on that day in 1953, including a 19 point game for Alabama’s Bobby Luna – who scored two touchdowns and kicked for seven extra points. Hall of Famer Cecil “Hootie” Ingram played for the Tide and recorded an 80-yeard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter.

In 1965, Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Alabama squad met with Darrell Royal’s Texas Longhorns for a New Year’s Day Orange Bowl brawl. This game was the first time the Orange Bowl moved to a prime time slot on network television. The game was a fight to the finish – Texas running back Ernie Koy posted two touchdowns in the first half, including a 79-yard score in the first quarter. Joe Namath came in later in the game (he was suffering from a bad knee) to put on an incredible offensive that nearly won the game for Alabama. Namath tried for the quarterback sneak late in the game, but was stopped short by linebacker Tommy Nobis and Frank Bedrick. Alabama won the National Championship that year due to the final regular season poll. This was the final year the National Championship was awarded pre-bowl.

The 1979 Orange Bowl game featured a match-up never before seen. The Oklahoma Sooners played the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the trophy. This was the first time two Big Eight teams ever met in a bowl game match-up. The Sooners won the game with the help of a 17-point third quarter streak, and avenged a regular season loss to the Cornhuskers, 31-24. Heisman winner Billy Simms was named MVP, and Nebraska’s coach Tom Osborne would go on to participate in two decades of Orange Bowl history.

The 1984 Orange Bowl match-up between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Miami Hurricanes was one of the most historic Orange Bowl games of all-time. The game was the Golden Anniversary 50th Annual Orange Bowl and the Hurricanes were ready to make it a night to remember. The game was a volley of scoring, as both Miami and Nebraska answered with points. The game came down to one final play where Ken Calhoun batted-down the would-be winning two point conversion pass to give the Hurricanes the National Championship, 31-30.

The 1994 Orange Bowl was a down-to-the-wire battle between Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. With under a minute to go and behind by one point, Heisman winner and Orange Bowl MVP Charlie Ward and his offense moved downfield, and watched as Freshman kicker Scott Bentley nailed a 22-yarder to put the Seminoles in the lead with only 21 seconds remaining. Nebraska answered back, making it to the FSU 38. Byron Bennett missed the field goal, and the Seminoles captured their first ever National Championship.

The 2000 Orange Bowl (or Y2K game), Tom Brady led his Michigan Wolverines to victory over Alabama.  Brady, now a Super Bowl MVP, passed for an Orange Bowl record 369 yards and four touchdowns. Michigan wide receiver David Terrell, the game’s MVP, helped Brady and the Wolverines to victory. Michigan overcame Alabama 35-34.