The Liberty Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in late December or early January since 1959. For its first five years, it was played at Philadelphia Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia before being held at Atlantic City (New Jersey) Convention Hall in 1964. Since 1965, the game has been held at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Because of the scheduling of the bowl game near the end of the calendar year, no game was played during calendar years 2008 or 2015, while two games were played in calendar years 2010 and 2016.
Since 2004, the game has been sponsored by Memphis-based auto parts retailer AutoZone and officially known as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Previous sponsors include St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (1993–1996) and AXA Financial (1997–2003).
|AutoZone Liberty Bowl|
|Stadium||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium|
|Previous stadiums||Philadelphia Municipal Stadium (1959–1963)|
Convention Hall (1964)
|Previous locations||Philadelphia (1959–1963)|
Atlantic City, New Jersey (1964)
|Conference tie-ins||Big 12 #4 Pick vs SEC Pool Pick|
The American (alternate)
|Previous conference tie-ins||C-USA (1996–2013)|
winner of the Commander in Chief's Trophy (1989–1992)
|Payout||US$2,400,000 (As of 2014)|
Liberty Bowl (1959–1992)
St. Jude Liberty Bowl (1993–1996)
AXA Liberty Bowl (1997–2003)
|Memphis vs. Iowa State (Iowa State 21–20)|
|Missouri vs. Oklahoma State (Oklahoma State 38–33)|
A. F. "Bud" Dudley, a former Villanova athletic director, created the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia in 1959. The game was played at Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium. It was the only cold-weather bowl game of its time, and was plagued by poor attendance. The inaugural game was the most successful of the five held in Philadelphia, as 38,000 fans watched Penn State beat Alabama 7–0 in 1959.
A group of Atlantic City businessmen convinced Dudley to move his game from Philadelphia to Atlantic City's Convention Hall for 1964 and guaranteed Dudley $25,000. It would be the first major (University Division, now Division I) bowl game played indoors. AstroTurf was still in its developmental stages and was unavailable for the game. Convention Hall was equipped with a 4-inch-thick (100 mm) grass surface with two inches of burlap underneath it (as padding) on top of concrete. To keep the grass growing, artificial lighting was installed and kept on 24 hours a day. The entire process cost about $16,000. End-zones were only 8 yards long. 6,059 fans saw Utah rout West Virginia. Dudley was paid $25,000 from Atlantic City businessmen, $60,000 from the gate, and $95,000 from television revenues, and cleared $10,000 net profit.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Liberty Bowl offered an automatic invitation to the winner of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, if that team was bowl eligible. Due to the general lack of power of service academy football during this era, the only academy team ever actually to appear in the Liberty Bowl as a result of this arrangement was Air Force, which appeared in three consecutive games, 1989–1991.
Beginning in 1996, the Liberty Bowl began an affiliation with the newly launched Conference USA, offering its champion an automatic bid. Beginning in 2005, the winner of C-USA was determined by the newly created C-USA championship game. The winner of that game was customarily offered the bowl berth from 2005–2013.
In 1996 and 1997, the opponent for the C-USA champion was a team from the Big East. In 1998, the Liberty Bowl replaced the Holiday Bowl in a shared contract with the Cotton Bowl and had second choice between the WAC champion and a team from the SEC. From 1999 to 2005, the opponent for the C-USA champion was the Mountain West champion. There were two exceptions:
In 1999, the Mountain West Conference did not have an outright champion, as three teams tied for the conference lead. The conference's bid for the game was given to Colorado State.
The bowl's contract from 2006 until 2013 pitted the winner of the C-USA championship game against the eighth pick from the SEC. The American was to provide its fifth-place team as an alternate if the SEC could not provide a team. The SEC was also given veto power for the bowl, and elected to use it in 2011 to block C-USA champion Southern Miss from playing Vanderbilt; instead Cincinnati got the spot and Southern Miss accepted an invitation to the 2011 Hawaii Bowl instead.
Since 2014, the matchup features a team from the SEC against the #4 pick from the Big 12 Conference. The Liberty Bowl is part of a six-bowl SEC pool arrangement that also involves the Belk, Music City, Outback, TaxSlayer, and Texas bowls; these bowls will choose one representative from the conference each, while the College Football Playoff receiving first choice (usually the Sugar Bowl in years it does not serve as a national semifinal) and the Citrus Bowl second choice.
The 2010 win by UCF was the program's first-ever bowl victory.
The 2011 game matched Coaches' Poll #24 ranked Cincinnati against upstart Vanderbilt, and unlike most lower tier bowls, it aired on the broadcast network ABC rather than its cable brethren ESPN. Cincinnati defeated Vanderbilt in a second-half comeback.
The 2012 Liberty Bowl featured an unusual rematch of a regular season game between the Iowa State Cyclones (9th place in the Big 12) and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Conference USA champions). Iowa State defeated Tulsa 38–23 in the season's first weekend, however Tulsa defeated Iowa State 31–17 in the Liberty Bowl. Though the bowl normally selects a team from the SEC, it invited Iowa State because the SEC did not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of its contracted bowl games.
Rankings are based on the AP Poll prior to the game being played.
|Date Played||Winning Team||Losing Team||Attnd.||Notes|
|December 19, 1959||No. 12 Penn State||7||No. 10 Alabama||0||36,211||notes|
|December 20, 1960||No. 16 Penn State||41||Oregon||12||16,624||notes|
|December 16, 1961||No. 14 Syracuse||15||Miami (Florida)||14||15,712||notes|
|December 15, 1962||Oregon State||6||Villanova||0||17,048||notes|
|December 21, 1963||Mississippi State||16||NC State||12||8,309||notes|
|December 19, 1964||Utah||32||West Virginia||6||6,059||notes|
|December 18, 1965||Ole Miss||13||Auburn||7||38,607||notes|
|December 10, 1966||No. 9 Miami (Florida)||14||Virginia Tech||7||39,101||notes|
|December 16, 1967||NC State||14||Georgia||7||35,045||notes|
|December 14, 1968||Ole Miss||34||Virginia Tech||17||46,206||notes|
|December 13, 1969||Colorado||47||Alabama||33||50,042||notes|
|December 12, 1970||Tulane||17||Colorado||3||44,640||notes|
|December 20, 1971||No. 9 Tennessee||14||No. 18 Arkansas||13||51,410||notes|
|December 18, 1972||Georgia Tech||31||Iowa State||30||50,021||notes|
|December 17, 1973||No. 16 NC State||31||No. 19 Kansas||18||50,011||notes|
|December 16, 1974||Tennessee||7||No. 10 Maryland||3||51,284||notes|
|December 22, 1975||USC||20||No. 2 Texas A&M||0||52,129||notes|
|December 20, 1976||No. 16 Alabama||36||No. 7 UCLA||6||52,736||notes|
|December 19, 1977||No. 12 Nebraska||21||No. 14 North Carolina||17||49,456||notes|
|December 23, 1978||No. 18 Missouri||20||LSU||15||53,064||notes|
|December 22, 1979||Penn State||9||No. 15 Tulane||6||50,021||notes|
|December 27, 1980||No. 16 Purdue||28||Missouri||25||35,667||notes|
|December 30, 1981||No. 15 Ohio State||31||Navy||28||43,216||notes|
|December 29, 1982||Alabama||21||Illinois||15||54,123||notes|
|December 29, 1983||Notre Dame||19||No. 13 Boston College||18||47,071||notes|
|December 27, 1984||No. 16 Auburn||21||Arkansas||15||50,180||notes|
|December 27, 1985||Baylor||21||No. 12 LSU||7||40,186||notes|
|December 29, 1986||Tennessee||21||Minnesota||14||51,327||notes|
|December 29, 1987||No. 15 Georgia||20||Arkansas||17||53,249||notes|
|December 28, 1988||Indiana||34||South Carolina||10||39,210||notes|
|December 29, 1989||Ole Miss||42||Air Force||29||60,128||notes|
|December 27, 1990||Air Force||23||No. 24 Ohio State||11||39,262||notes|
|December 29, 1991||Air Force||38||Mississippi State||15||61,497||notes|
|December 31, 1992||No. 20 Ole Miss||13||Air Force||0||32,107||notes|
|December 28, 1993||No. 25 Louisville||18||Michigan State||7||34,216||notes|
|December 31, 1994||Illinois||30||East Carolina||0||33,280||notes|
|December 30, 1995||East Carolina||19||Stanford||13||47,398||notes|
|December 27, 1996||No. 23 Syracuse||30||Houston||17||49,163||notes|
|December 31, 1997||Southern Miss||41||Pittsburgh||7||50,209||notes|
|December 31, 1998||No. 10 Tulane||41||BYU||27||52,192||notes|
|December 31, 1999||No. 16 Southern Miss||23||Colorado State||17||54,866||notes|
|December 29, 2000||No. 23 Colorado State||22||No. 22 Louisville||17||58,302||notes|
|December 31, 2001||No. 23 Louisville||28||No. 19 BYU||10||58,968||notes|
|December 31, 2002||TCU||17||No. 23 Colorado State||3||55,207||notes|
|December 31, 2003||No. 25 Utah||17||Southern Miss||0||55,989||notes|
|December 31, 2004||No. 7 Louisville||44||No. 10 Boise State||40||58,355||notes|
|December 31, 2005||Tulsa||31||Fresno State||24||54,894||notes|
|December 29, 2006||South Carolina||44||Houston||36||56,103||notes|
|December 29, 2007||Mississippi State||10||Central Florida||3||63,816||notes|
|January 2, 2009||Kentucky||25||East Carolina||19||56,125||notes|
|January 2, 2010||Arkansas||20||East Carolina||17||62,742||notes|
|December 31, 2010||Central Florida||10||Georgia||6||51,231||notes|
|December 31, 2011||Cincinnati||31||Vanderbilt||24||57,103||notes|
|December 31, 2012||Tulsa||31||Iowa State||17||53,687||notes|
|December 31, 2013||Mississippi State||44||Rice||7||57,846||notes|
|December 29, 2014||Texas A&M||45||West Virginia||37||51,282||notes|
|January 2, 2016||Arkansas||45||Kansas State||23||61,136||notes|
|December 30, 2016||Georgia||31||TCU||23||51,087||notes|
|December 30, 2017||Iowa State||21||No. 18 Memphis||20||57,266||notes|
|December 31, 2018||Oklahoma State||38||No. 24 Missouri||33||51,587||notes|
Source: :67, 70
Updated through the December 2018 edition (60 games, 120 total appearances).
Won (11): Baylor, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Purdue, USC
Lost (18): Boise State, Boston College, Fresno State, Kansas, Kansas State, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan State, Minnesota, Navy, North Carolina, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Rice, Stanford, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Villanova
Updated through the December 2018 edition (60 games, 120 total appearances).
The inaugural Liberty Bowl in 1959 was televised by NBC, followed by ABC for 11 years. Between 1981 and 1988, the game was broadcast by several different networks. Since 1990, the game has been broadcast annually by ABC or ESPN.
The 1961 Liberty Bowl was a college football postseason bowl game that featured the Syracuse Orangemen and the Miami Hurricanes.1965 Liberty Bowl
The 1965 Liberty Bowl was a college football postseason bowl game between the Auburn Tigers and the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels won the game, 13–7.1971 Liberty Bowl
The 1971 Liberty Bowl was a post-season college football bowl game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Tennessee Volunteers. In the thirteenth Liberty Bowl, #9 Tennessee defeated #18 Arkansas 14-13 in front of 45,410 patrons.1974 Liberty Bowl
The 1974 Liberty Bowl was a college football postseason bowl game that featured the Maryland Terrapins and the Tennessee Volunteers.1975 Liberty Bowl
The 1975 Liberty Bowl was a college football postseason bowl game that featured the USC Trojans and the Texas A&M Aggies.1976 Liberty Bowl
The 1976 Liberty Bowl, part of the 1976 bowl game season, took place on December 20, 1976, at Memphis Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the UCLA Bruins, representing the Pacific-8 Conference (Pac-8). Alabama won the game 36–6.1978 Liberty Bowl
The 1978 Liberty Bowl, part of the 1978 bowl game season, took place on December 23, 1978, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The competing teams were the LSU Tigers of the Southeastern Conference and the Missouri Tigers of the Big Eight Conference. Missouri defeated LSU by a final score of 20–15.1979 Liberty Bowl
The 1979 Liberty Bowl, part of the 1979 bowl game season, took place on December 22, 1979, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The competing teams were the Tulane Green Wave and the Penn State Nittany Lions, each competing as a football independent. Penn State was victorious by a final score of 9–6.1981 Liberty Bowl
The 1981 Liberty Bowl was a postseason college football bowl game held on December 30, 1981, in Memphis, Tennessee, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The game featured the conference independent Navy Midshipmen facing the Ohio State Buckeyes from the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State won the game 31–28.1986 Liberty Bowl
The 1986 Liberty Bowl featured the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Tennessee Volunteers.1996 Liberty Bowl
The 1996 Liberty Bowl was a college football bowl game between the Houston Cougars and the Syracuse Orangemen.1999 Liberty Bowl
The 1999 AXA Liberty Bowl was a postseason college football game played between the Colorado State Rams and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on December 31, 1999, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Southern Miss won the game 23–17; the game was highlighted by Southern Miss's strong defense, which scored two touchdowns and held Colorado State scoreless in the second half.2000 Liberty Bowl
The 2000 AXA Liberty Bowl was a postseason college football game played between the Colorado State Rams and the Louisville Cardinals on December 29, 2000, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Colorado State won the game 22–17; Colorado State running back Cecil Sapp, the game's MVP, ran for a career-high 160 yards and a touchdown.2001 Liberty Bowl
The 2001 AXA Liberty Bowl was a postseason college football game played between the Louisville Cardinals and the BYU Cougars on December 31, 2001, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Louisville won the game, 28–10.2004 Liberty Bowl
The 2004 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, played on December 31, 2004, was the 46th edition of the Liberty Bowl. The game was played between Boise State, and Louisville, in front of 58,355 fans.
This bowl game was notable for being the highest ranked non-BCS bowl game in the nation that year, with Boise State ranked 9th and Louisville ranked 10th.
Boise State played in place of the Mountain West Conference champions, the Utah Utes, who played in the Fiesta Bowl instead.2006 Liberty Bowl
The 2006 Liberty Bowl was a college football bowl game played on December 29, 2006 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The game pitted the Houston Cougars against the South Carolina Gamecocks. South Carolina won the game by a score of 44–36.2011 Liberty Bowl
The 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the 53rd edition of the game, was a post-season American college football bowl game, held on December 31, 2011 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee as part of the 2011–12 NCAA Bowl season.The game, which was telecast at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC, featured the Cincinnati Bearcats, Big East co-champions, versus the Vanderbilt Commodores of the SEC. It was the first edition of the game to be aired by ABC since 1980. The Cincinnati Bearcats won the game, by a final score of 31–24, in front of a crowd of 57,103.2018 Liberty Bowl
The 2018 Liberty Bowl was a college football bowl game between the #24 Missouri Tigers of the Southeastern Conference and the unranked Oklahoma State Cowboys of the Big 12 Conference. The 60th edition of the Liberty Bowl took place on December 31, 2018 at 2:45 p.m. EST and aired on ESPN. It was one of the 2018–19 bowl games that concluded the 2018 FBS football season. Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee, hosted the game for the 54th straight year. The game was sponsored by automobile parts and accessories store AutoZone and was officially known as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
The Cowboys beat the Tigers by a score of 38–33 to claim the school’s first Liberty Bowl championship and their 19th bowl game overall.Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, originally named Memphis Memorial Stadium, is a football stadium located at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds in the Midtown area of Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The stadium is the site of the annual Liberty Bowl, and is the home field of the University of Memphis Tigers football team of the American Athletic Conference. It has also been the host of several attempts at professional sports in the city, as well as other local football games and other gatherings.
|History & conference tie-ins|
|College Football Playoff|
|Other bowl games|
|Future bowl games|