ESPNU To Feature Historic Sugar Bowls on Thursday
NEW ORLEANS (June 24, 2020) – ESPN, which has broadcasted the last 10 Allstate Sugar Bowls, will re-air five memorable Sugar Bowls on ESPNU this Thursday starting at 7 a.m. (Central). ESPN is scheduled to broadcast the 2021 Allstate Sugar Bowl, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, on January 1, 2021.
Spoiler Alerts – Game Results Follow!
Andy Kelly, MVP of the 1991 Sugar Bowl
The 1991 Sugar Bowl featured one of the greatest comebacks in the game’s history. Virginia controlled the first half of the game, building a 16-0 advantage behind quarterback Shawn Moore, who was outstanding despite suffering a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand early in the game. However, Tennessee came together behind the efforts of quarterback Andy Kelly and running back Tony Thompson. Trailing 22-17 with just over two minute to go, Kelly connected on 7-of-9 passes for 64 yards before Thompson, who gained 151 yards on the night, crashed in from one yard out with 31 seconds left to clinch the victory.
An improbable tie in the 1994 regular-season finale between Florida State and Florida was one of their more memorable regular season showdowns – and it set up “Overtime” or “The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter” in the 61st annual Sugar Bowl Classic. The Sugar Bowl lived up to its billing with big plays all around, including an 82-yard TD connection between Danny Wuerrfel and Ike Hilliard for the Gators and a 73-yard halfback option pass from Louisiana native Warrick Dunn to ’Omar Ellison. Dunn was the MVP as he also ran for 58 yards and caught nine passes for 51 yards in the thrilling Seminole win.
The 1982 Sugar Bowl featured two college football superstars as Georgia’s Herschel Walker went head-to-head with Pitt’s Dan Marino. The Bulldogs were aiming for a second straight Sugar Bowl title and Walker ran for a pair of touchdowns. However, in a game that saw five lead-changes, it was Marino who made the fateful decision of the contest. Trailing 20-17 with 42 seconds to go and facing a do-or-die fourth and five at the Georgia 33,
Dan Marino, MVP of the 1982 Sugar Bowl
Marino explained, “It comes down to this: It’s a 50-yard field goal and, even if we don’t make it, which is a longshot, it’s still going to be a 20-20 score. If we go for it and make the first down, then we have a shot to win the game. And if we don’t make the first down, then we don’t deserve to win the game.”
The Panthers did better than a first down, Marino took a deep drop and found John Brown with a perfect pass for a 33-yard score with just 35 seconds remaining for the win.
The 2012 Sugar Bowl was another memorable battle as it was the first, and only to date, Sugar Bowl to feature overtime. Michigan’s Junior Hemingway had a pair of highlight reel touchdown catches, but it was the kickers who took center stage. Virginia Tech’s Justin Myer, the Hokies’ third-string kicker, who came into the game with zero career field goals, booted four during the game, including a 25-yarder with two seconds to go to force overtime. But after Meyer missed a 37-yard attempt in overtime, the Wolverines’ Brendon Gibbons nailed a 37-yarder for the win.
In the first season (2014) of the College Football Playoff format, the Allstate Sugar Bowl hosted one of the first Playoff Semifinals between fourth-seeded Ohio State and No. 1 Alabama. In addition to being a sold-out spectacle at the Superdome, the game was watched by 28,271,000 viewers, making it the most viewed cable broadcast of all-time (that number has since been surpassed).
Despite being the underdog, Ohio State rolled up a total of 537 yards against the No. 1 defense in college football, one loaded with NFL prospects. Buckeye star Ezekiel Elliott had a sensational performance as he ran for a Sugar Bowl-record 230 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yard dash late in the fourth quarter to ice the victory.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer seemed satisfied when he assessed his overlooked Buckeyes. “They’re good enough. That was a sledgehammer game, that was classic. So we are good enough.”
That was an understatement. Eleven days after the Sugar Bowl, Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 for the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 96 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 86-year history. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade.