The Orange Bowl game has been played since 1935, bestowing decades of college football history upon the city of Miami, Florida. During the 1930’s, the main concern about the fledgling bowl was where it was going to be played. The first stadium to host the Orange Bowl – Miami Field – was comprised of wooden bleachers and attracted a crowd of 5,134 spectators for the first game. In 1938, the game moved to the Miami Orange Bowl, which was built on the same property as Miami Field.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s, the Orange Bowl saw a vast growth. Some incredible performances were witnessed during the 40’s, with Frank Sinkwich racking up 365 yards and throwing for three touchdowns with a broken jaw in 1942, and Steve Van Buren of LSU running for 172 yards, punting, kicking-off and kicking for a field goal on a sprained ankle. In the 1950’s, the Orange Bowl hosted two National Championship games, and saw the likes of Paul “Bear” Bryant, Andy Gustafson, Frank Howard and other timeless coaching figures. In 1953, the Orange Bowl game was televised for the first time on CBS, featuring the Alabama Crimson Tide versus Syracuse. The Tide blew out Syracuse 61-5.
President John F. Kennedy visited the Orange Bowl game in 1963, watching the Crimson Tide roll over the Oklahoma Sooners. Joe Namath was the QB for the Tide, and Alabama’s defense was led by Lee Roy Jordan, who made an Orange Bowl-record 31 tackles against the Sooners in the game.
During the 1980’s, four National Championship games were held at the Orange Bowl Classic. The Oklahoma Sooners made six Orange Bowl appearances during the 1980’s, and the dominant Nebraska Cornhuskers made four appearances to the bowl.
The FedEx Orange Bowl is one of four BCS bowl games that hosted the BCS National Championship game until 2006, when the Orange Bowl became exclusively tied to the ACC champion. Prior to 2006, the national championship was decided in one of the four BCS bowls – Orange, Fiesta, Sugar or Rose. Currently, the BCS National Championship game is a separate entity from the Orange Bowl game. However, the Orange Bowl venue – Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida – still hosts the BCS National Championship game on a rotating basis once every four years. Also, the BCS title game will retain the FedEx sponsorship.