Hoppy’s Commentary for Wednesday

Tonight’s game between WVU and Clemson is the 77th Orange Bowl. The bowl has a rich history and has frequently been the scene of defining moments in college football.  Here are some of them.

–On Nov. 24, 1935, Bucknell played Miami in the first Orange Bowl. Back then, it was called the Palm Beach Classic.  Bucknell coach Hook Mylin, was apparently worried about the conditions in Miami, so the team brought 280 gallons of their own water with them.  Perhaps it helped.  Bucknell upset Miami 26-0.

–In 1939, the Orange Bowl came of age when two undefeated and big time teams, Tennessee and Oklahoma met. Orange Bowl founder Earnie Seiler had to go to Oklahoma and pass out pictures of beaches and young women in bathing suits to convince Oklahoma to come.  The Sooners may have enjoyed the sun and fun, but the Vols won the game 17-0.

–The 1942 game saw Georgia All-American and future Heisman Trophy winner Frankie Sinkwich, despite playing with a broken jaw, accounted for 382 yards of offense–still an Orange Bowl record.  Georgia rolled over TCU 40-26.

–Observers say the 1946 game between Miami and Holy Cross had one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the Orange Bowl.  Miami’s Al Hudson intercepted a pass and ran it back 89 yards with no time remaining to win the game for the Hurricanes.

–In 1950, Santa Clara traveled by train the 3,300 miles to Miami.  The trip took four days, but it was worth it.  Santa Clara upset a Kentucky team 21-13 that was coached by Paul "Bear" Bryant.

–The 1953 Orange Bowl was the first ever broadcast on television.  A national audience tuned into CBS and saw the most lopsided game in the history of the Orange Bowl, as Alabama rolled Syracuse 61-6.

–The 1963 Orange Bowl was attended by the President of the United States, who watched Alabama beat Oklahoma.  Less than a year later the nation would mourn the assassination of that President–John Kennedy.

–They turned the lights on in 1965 for the first Orange Bowl played at night.  Alabama quarterback Joe Namath was stopped inches from the goal line with seconds remaining as Texas upset Alabama 21-17.  Despite the loss, Namath was still named the game MVP.

–Penn State capped an undefeated season with a 10-3 win over Missouri in the 1970 Orange Bowl, but the Texas Longhorns were named the Coaches Poll national champions, even though they lost the Cotton Bowl to Notre Dame.

–The 1973 Orange Bowl saw Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny Rogers account for five touchdowns as Nebraska beat Notre Dame 40-6.  It was the third straight Orange Bowl victory for Nebraska and sent legendary Husker coach Bob Devaney out on top.

–West Virginia’s opponent tonight, the Clemson Tigers, won the national championship in the 1982 Orange Bowl with a 22-15 victory over Nebraska. The Clemson coach, Danny Ford, was inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame this year.

–It’s argued that the 1984 game between Miami and Nebraska was the greatest bowl game ever played.  Nebraska lineman Dean Steinkuhler scored from 19 yards on a controversial "fumblerooskie" play.  Nebraska scored with 48-seconds remaining and tailed by one, 31-30.   This was before overtime and Nebraska coach Tom Osborne decided to go for two and the win, but Turner Gill’s pass was batted away and Miami won its first national championship. 

–The Orange Bowl has seen many firsts, and two came in the 90’s.  Bobby Bowden won his first national championship when Florida State beat Nebraska in the 1994 Orange Bowl.  The following year, Tom Osborne won his first title as the Huskers beat Miami 24-17 here.

–The January 2, 2000 Orange Bowl was the first to go to overtime.  Michigan defeated Alabama 35-34.  The quarterback who led the Wolverines to victory was Tom Brady.

–In 2005, the Orange Bowl was the scene of the national championship game for the 18th time as Southern Cal defeated Oklahoma 55-19 to win the title.  The game featured two Heisman Trophy winners–Matt Leinart of USC and Jason White of Oklahoma.

–The 2006 Orange Bowl was called the legends game because it was a meeting of Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Penn State’s Joe Paterno.  Penn State came out on top 26-23 in triple overtime.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot of college football history made in the Orange Bowl.  Maybe some more will be made tonight. 

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