Memorable Moments from Past Cheez-It Bowl and Citrus Bowl Games
If you’re looking for some exciting college football action, look no further than Orlando, Florida, where you’ll find the Vrbo Citrus Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl. While they may not have the fanfare of other bowl matchups, both games have had their share of unforgettable moments over the years.
Even if your favorite team or alma mater isn’t playing in either bowl game, these matches have proven to be most interesting, especially in recent years. Whether it’s the infamous turnover-filled Cheez-It Bowl, the marquee coaching matchup of the 2020 Vrbo Citrus Bowl, or the record-breaking performance in the 2019 Vrbo Citrus Bowl, many of these games have proven to be must-see over the years.
The Most Unforgettable Moments at Past Cheez-It Bowls
The Notorious 2018 Matchup Between Cal-TCU
This particular matchup has the distinction of being named one of the most anti-climactic bowl games ever. However, the award isn’t without merit, as Cal and TCU combined to put on a truly forgettable game. The first half saw six interceptions alone and nine total for the game. Two of those picks came on illegal throws and both teams, who struggled with quarterback issues during the season, played their backups under center.
Photo courtesy of Cal Football
TCU, which won with just 28 passing yards, switched kickers twice before a field goal try and still missed the field goal. TCU finally put an end to the madness with a 10-7 overtime win.
The 2020 Game Between Miami and Oklahoma State Cowboys
The No. 18 Hurricanes could not claw back from an early 21-0 deficit, and the No. 21 Cowboys won with a final score of 37-34. The chaotic game saw the teams trade touchdowns in the fourth but ended when Miami handed the Cowboys the ball during a tunnel screen with only 90 seconds left on the clock.
Additionally, Miami was penalized multiple times, and the Hurricanes’ receivers dropped numerous catchable balls. Miami’s defense did it no favors either, missing tackles while Oklahoma State freshman wide receiver Brennan Presley collected three touchdowns and 118 yards against the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes have had their share of bowl success over the past few decades, including four national titles between 1987-2001, but the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl was just not their game to win. In the end, the Hurricanes suffered a devastating L, and their star player, quarterback D’Eriq King, ended the game with a serious knee injury.
The Infamous Cheez-It Cooler Drop
The Gatorade cooler dump is a longstanding football tradition where a coach gets an icy cold Gatorade shower from players moments after a big win. However, the cooler drop is slightly different for Cheez-It Bowl participants, featuring the recognizable orange water cooler full of the crispy baked snack crackers.
The tradition started during the inaugural 2018 Cheez-It Bowl when TCU players dumped a few boxes over their head coach, Gary Patterson. However, during the 2019 matchup between the Air Force Falcons and Washington State Cougars, the Cheez-It cooler drop moved to the next level with a whole cooler full of everyone’s favorite cheesy cracker snack.
The unique cooler drop continued in 2020 when Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was doused with Cheez-Its after winning. In the build-up to the moment, a pair of Oklahoma State players lost sight of their coach and had to be pointed in the right direction to give their coach a proper soaking.
Photo courtesy of: OSU Cowboy Football Twitter
Top Unforgettable Vrbo Citrus Bowl Moments
A Record-breaking Performance in 2019’s Game Between Kentucky and Penn State
Bowl games are often one of the best chances for players to showcase themselves on a big stage before the NFL draft. That was the case just two seasons ago when the 2019 edition of the Vrbo Citrus Bowl turned into the Benny Snell Show during the Wildcats’ first Citrus Bowl appearance.
The Kentucky running back torched Penn State’s defense for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries to help Kentucky win 27-24. Snell also became Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher and finished his career with 48 total touchdowns and 3,873 yards in the middle of all that. Snell’s big day was the perfect way to cap his Kentucky career, leaving the school having set 14 program records.
The Highly-Anticipated Matchup in 2020 Between Michigan and Alabama
A highly-anticipated matchup of head coaches between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh finally happened in 2020. Saban has been masterful during his time at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide to six national championships. Harbaugh’s arrival at Michigan was supposed to help push the Wolverines back into the company of college football’s elite, but until this season, Michigan has fallen short.
Photo courtesy of Wolverines Wire
The 2020 Vrbo Citrus Bowl ended with another dominant performance by the Crimson Tide and a 35-16 win. While Michigan was able to hang in there until Alabama pulled away in the second half, the game was a showcase for Crimson Tide players who are now lighting it up in the NFL. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was a tidy 16-of-25 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had eight catches for 204 yards and a touchdown, and running back Najee Harris had 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Northwestern’s Win Over Auburn in the 2021 Game
Northwestern took the fight to Auburn, a traditional SEC power, in the 2021 Vrbo Citrus Bowl and came out with a well-deserved 35-19 win last year. Running back Cam Porter was a hammer for the Huskies, running 33 times for 98 yards and a touchdown. Northwestern had a perfect game plan, controlling the clock, hanging on the ball, and dominating on third down.
This game plan was effective and gave Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald his fifth bowl win in his last six tries. Auburn, a team usually known for tough defense, surrendered 457 yards of total offense to the Wildcats. In a college football season with many ups, downs, and unknowns, this was the perfect way for Northwestern to put a bow on a 6-2 season.
Experience the Excitement of an Orlando Bowl Game for Yourself
Now that you’ve read about some of the best moments, it’s time to start thinking about your plans to check out the games for yourself. One of the best ways to experience the games is with a Florida Citrus Sports membership. A membership gives you tickets to both bowl games, parking passes, networking events, volunteer opportunities, and much more!
There are several different FCS membership packages, so there’s sure to be one that is just right for you. An annual membership will also give you first dibs on tickets for future bowl games and other exciting events at Camping World Stadium.