The Worst: Sun Bowl Edition


Ahhh yes, the Sun Bowl! Believe it or not, the Sun Bowl ranks among the oldest postseason games, dating back to 1935 — the same year as the Sugar and Orange Bowl. Like those classic games, it began as a Jan. 1 bowl.

Now it’s either played the day of New Year’s Eve or a couple of days prior. This year’s matchup takes place Friday between Arizona State and North Carolina State. They’ll face off in El Paso, Texas, where supposedly that’s where you’re supposed to get the REAL salsa. Not that New York City stuff!

For this edition of the Worst, we won’t talk about salsa. Although, salsa is delicious and we should all make concerted efforts to eat it whenever possible. Considering the host locale of the Sun Bowl, El Paso, is known for its tacos — as the ESPN crew working this season’s Arizona-UTEP could attest — a salsa conversation seems only fitting.

Today, howeverpi, we focus on some of the less than stellar moments in Sun Bowl History. Let’s go ahead and get going with this thing.

5. Texas Tech offense struggles as Georgia wins first bowl game with Dooley- 1964

For the first time in 1964, the Sun Bowl was featured on television, NBC to be exact. It would be Vince Dooley’s first season on the sidelines for the Bulldogs. And despite scoring just 11 points per game that season, the Bulldogs defeated both Florida and Georgia Tech.

Texas Tech meanwhile had a pretty good offense, led by running back Donny Anderson, who finished fifth in the nation in rushing yards with 966.

You would think Anderson and the Tech offense could put away Georgia, right? Wrong! MVP Preston Ridlehuber tossed his only touchdown of the game in the second quarter for Georgia, a 52-yarder to Fred Barber.

Anderson was held to just 19 rushing yards in the game.

The funny thing for Texas Tech is they’ve appeared in this bowl nine times, more than any other team. Their record during that stretch? 1-8!

You can rightly guess that they’ve had some worse losses in El Paso.

4. Oklahoma blows past future fellow-conference member Texas Tech- 1993

Losses to Nebraska, Kansas State and Colorado kept the Sooners from winning the Big Eight. It did get them into the Sun Bowl. As for Texas Tech, they came into the game with a five-game winning streak. And that came after losing five straight.

This wasn’t a very close game. Cale Gundy (yes, related) had three touchdown passes and 215 yards passing in the win over the Red Raiders. Gundy was picked as the MVP and played strong, despite getting sacked six times.

Texas Tech lost this game, even though Bam Morris had 95 yards rushing. Morris scored the only Red Raiders touchdown in the third quarter on a two-yard run. The game was played in 38-degree weather, which seems less than ideal.

Texas Tech has not made it back to the Sun Bowl since the ’93 season.

3. UCLA wins it on field goals over Illinois- 1991

This game was not for the faint of heart. This game had nine points scored…total! Louis Perez kicked a 19-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and it would give the Bruins the victory.

If that’s not enough, this game featured future XFL MVP, Tommy Maddox. How good was Maddox that way? Well…do we really need to go into his performance?

Yes, we do! Maddox completed 17-of-28 passes for 176 yards with one interception. His counterpart on the other end? Jason Verduzco, who went 17-of-38 for 189 yards with three interceptions.

The Sun Bowl has featured a lot of low scoring games. Believe it or not, we have games on here that have fewer points scored.

2. Oregon State defeats Pittsburgh 3-0– 2008

I realize you can make a good case for this one being No. 1. I’m not interested in hearing that case, however.

The only points in the game came on a 44-yard field goal by Justin Kahut. Oregon State had 273 total yards in this game, while Pitt only had 178. If that’s not enough, the two teams combined for five turnovers.

This game obviously has no alibi; it’s ugly. Now, you might say that this is the lowest scoring game in Sun Bowl history. In a way, it’s true.

You don’t see these scores happen in college football games that often. However, we do have a 0-0 game in Sun Bowl history, and it surprisingly enough involves Arizona State.

1. Arizona State and Catholic University finish in a 0-0 tie- 1940

You might be thinking that it’s a battle between Catholic University and a team called the Sun Devils. Arizona State wasn’t known as the Sun Devils at that point. They were the Bulldogs and wouldn’t be the Sun Devils until later in the decade.

As for Catholic University, they already had an Orange Bowl appearance, now they got to play in the Sun Bowl. The school now plays Division III football.

This game was pretty much all about defense. Both teams came in with solid winning records and averaged more than 20 points per game. You would think it would be a shootout. You’re wrong!

Both teams could run the ball. Arizona State had 205 rushing yards, while Catholic University had 182.

Catholic University had a chance to win the game thanks to Carmen Pirro’s efforts. However, the kick went wide right.

What can you say about Catholic? They do have an Orange Bowl victory.