Remembering the Bluebonnet Bowl

ncaa-football-bowl-program_1973-bluebonnet-bowl

With the 2015 college football season coming to a close on 1/11/2016 with the NCAA Division One Championship Game between Clemson and Alabama, 95% of my thoughts now flow almost fully unimpeded back to baseball, the Astros, and the MLB season coming up, but I did want to settle an old memory debt to the now moribund Bluebonnet Bowl that really did so much to establish long ago that the City of Houston intended to be a strong active player in the post-season college football scene from 1959 through these current times. This bowl, and the establishment of Houston as the annual winter base of the Lombardi Award to the best lineman of the year, were the earliest two feet in the door of that commitment.

I was fortunate to have seen the first two games in person, all of the UH Cougar appearances, of course, and a few of the others. They were beautifully timed to the needs of our Cougars for a venue to show their stuff to a national audience, and, win, lose, or draw, that they did. I recall the 1969 36-7 bruise the Cougars put on Auburn as a generator of feelings similar to the ones we grabbed in sweet joy in the Peach Bowl last week with the 38-24 win over Florida State.

This time, we long of tooth Coogs understand that it takes more than a one-time bombing of national awareness that “these guys are good” sentiments to earn a place at the big table. We must continue to excel – and do more.

Fortunately for UH fans, young Coach Tom Herman understands that fact as well as any of his more age-worn coaching cohorts.

Today we remember the Bluebonnet Bowl as one of those places you played to boost your school’s opportunities for post-season recognition by a national audience – and, mostly on New Years Eve, no less. “The Blue” is the father of the 2000 Houston Bowl and the grandfather of the 2008 Texas Bowl at NRG. And it is most deserving of its own place of honor in our local sports history – even if we did only get to this mention in the last week of the now passing away college football season.

Have a great sunshiny cold day in Houston, neighbors!

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A Brief History

The Bluebonnet Bowl was an annual college football bowl game played in Houston, Texas.[1] A civic group was appointed by the Houston Chamber of Commerce Athletics Committee in 1959 to organize the bowl game. It was held at Rice Stadium from 1959 through 1967, and again in 1985 and 1986. The game was played in the Astrodome from 1968 through 1984, as well in 1987. When held in the Astrodome, it was called the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. The proceeds from the bowl games were distributed to various Harris County charitable organizations. The game was discontinued following the 1987 season due to poor ticket sales and lack of a title sponsor.[2]

The Bluebonnet Bowl generally featured a team from Texas against an out-of-state opponent; 19 out of the 29 games involved a team from Texas. From 1980 to 1987, with the exception of 1981, a team from the Southwest Conference played against an at-large opponent.

The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas.

Bowl games returned to Houston in 2000 with the Houston Bowl, and then the Texas Bowl since 2006.

~ Excerpt from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluebonnet_Bowl

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Bluebonnet Bowl Results, 1959-1987

G# DATE WINNER LOSER
01 12/19/59 CLEMSON 23 TCU 7
02 12/17/60 ALABAMA 3 TEXAS 3 (TIE)
03 12/16/61 KANSAS 33 RICE 7
04 12/22/62 MISSOURI 14 GEORGIA TECH 10
05 12/21/63 BAYLOR 14 LSU 7
06 12/19/64 TULSA 14 OLE MISS 7
07 12/18/65 TENNESSEE 27 TULSA 6
08 12/17/66 TEXAS 19 OLE MISS 0
09 12/23/67 COLORADO 31 MIAMI (FL) 21
10 12/31/68 SMU 28 OKLAHOMA 27
11 12/31/69 HOUSTON 36 AUBURN 7
12 12/31/70 ALABAMA 24 OKLAHOMA 24 (TIE)
13 12/31/71 COLORADO 29 HOUSTON 17
14 12/30/72 TENNESSEE 24 LSU 17
15 12/29/73 HOUSTON 47 TULANE 7
16 12/23/74 HOUSTON 31 NC STATE 31 (TIE)
17 12/27/75 TEXAS 38 COLORADO 21
18 12/31/76 NEBRASKA 27 TEXAS TECH 24
19 12/31/77 USC 47 TEXAS A&M 28
20 12/31/78 STANFORD 25 GEORGIA 22
21 12/31/79 PURDUE 27 TENNESSEE 22
22 12/31/80 NORTH CAROLINA 16 TEXAS 7
25 12/31/81 MICHIGAN 33 UCLA 14
26 12/31/82 ARKANSAS 28 FLORIDA 24
27 12/31/83 OKLAHOMA ST 24 BAYLOR 14
28 12/31/84 WEST VIRGINIA 31 TCU 14
29 12/31/85 AIR FORCE 24 TEXAS 16
30 12/31/86 BAYLOR 21 COLORADO 9
31 12/31/87 TEXAS 32 PITTSBURGH 27

The above table was reconstructed from data provided by http://www.databasefootball.com/College/bowls/bowlgame.htm?BowlID=9

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2 Responses to “Remembering the Bluebonnet Bowl”

  1. Bill Gilbert Says:

    Bill-
    Interesting list. I attended 7 of the games during the years I lived in the Houston area. One I remember, not too fondly, is the 31-31 tie with North Carolina State where, if I remember correctly, Houston had a 16 point lead in the 4th quarter, but NC State improbably rallied for 2 touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to gain the tie. What NC State did to UH on the basketball court 9 years later was even worse.

    Bill Gilbert

  2. Davis Barker .... Jacksonville, Texas Says:

    Don’t forget the Oil Bowl … believe it was the first ….

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