MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Memphis Tigers and Florida Atlantic Owls are set to meet in the Montgomery Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. CT, on ESPN. The game will be played at the historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery.
“We are thrilled that Memphis and Florida Atlantic will be joining us for the Montgomery Bowl,” Johnny Williams, executive director of the Montgomery Bowl said. “In an unusual and challenging year, we are grateful to ESPN Events, Montgomery County and the City of Montgomery to host two bowl games in three days at the Cramton Bowl. We are excited to be a part of this historic occasion.”
Following the Montgomery Bowl, the Cramton Bowl will host the seventh annual Camellia Bowl on Friday, Dec. 25 at 1:30 p.m. (CST). The pairings for the Camellia Bowl will be announced at a later date.
Memphis (7-3, 5-3 American Athletic Conference) ranks in the Top 25 nationally in total offense (451.1 total yards per game) and passing offense (310.3 passing yards per game).The offense is led by sixth-year senior quarter Brady White, who transferred to UM from Arizona State. White ranks in the Top 10 nationally in touchdown passes (28), passing yards (3,096), passing yards per game (309.6) and total offense (317.2).
The Tigers have wins this season against Arkansas State (the defending Camellia Bowl champions), UCF, Temple, USF, Stephen F. Austin, Navy and Houston. The signature win was a 50-49 thriller over UCF on Oct. 17 at Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis. The Tigers posted the largest comeback in school history for the one-point win. White threw for 486 yards and six touchdowns as the Tigers rallied from three double-digit deficits (20-7, 35-14 and 43-29) for the one-point win. The losses came to SMU (after 28-day layoff), Cincinnati and Tulane. Three other games (Purdue, UTSA and UT Martin) were cancelled due to Covid-19.
Memphis will be making its 14th all-time bowl appearance. The Tigers are 5-8 all-time in bowl games and are one year removed from the school’s first-ever New Year’s Six bowl with a 53-39 loss to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl. Memphis kicker Riley Paterson set NCAA, Cotton Bowl and Memphis record with six made field goals in the loss. He finished the game with 21 (6 FGM, 3 PATs) total points.
The Tigers bowl history dates back to the 1956 Burley Bowl in Johnson City, Tenn. Memphis State posted a 32-12 win over East Tennessee State on Nov. 22 at Memorial Stadium. Memphis defeated San Jose State 28-9 in the 1971 Pasadena Bowl. The game was played on Dec. 18 and was played inside the Rose Bowl. Memphis next bowl appearance would come 32 years later with an appearance in the 2003 New Orleans Bowl. The Tigers posted a 27-17 win over North Texas in the Louisiana Superdome. Memphis has played 11 of its 13 games since 2003. Memphis is riding a 5-game bowl losing streak with its last win coming in the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl. Memphis beat BYU 55-48.
Memphis is playing in its fourth bowl game in the state of Alabama. The Tigers played in the 2004 GMAC Bowl (Bowling Green 52, Memphis 35) in Mobile; 2015 Birmingham Bowl (Auburn 31, Memphis 10) and 2018 Birmingham Bowl (Wake Forest 37, Memphis 34).
In addition, Memphis has sent 49 players to Montgomery for the annual Blue-Gray All-Star Game. A pair former Tigers were named Blue-Gray Game MVP, including guard Bob Finamore (1964) and safety David Berrong (1969). Former Memphis wide receiver Issac Bruce played in the 1993 Blue-Gray Game. He played 22 games for the Tigers and caught 113 passes for 1,586 yards and 15 TDs. He was drafted by the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He led the Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV win over the Tennessee Titans (23-16) on Jan. 30, 2000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Florida Atlantic (5-3, 4-2 Conference USA) will enter the game with a stingy defense, led by senior cornerback and Montgomery native Zyon Gilbert. Gilbert, who played at Jeff Davis High School and played his home games in the Cramton Bowl, has been an instrumental leader for a team that made the transition to first year head coach Willie Taggart nearly a year ago. He has recorded 39 tackles and four pass breakups this season. A total of six Owls originally hail from the state of Alabama.
FAU leads Conference USA in pass efficiency defense (108.54) and sacks (25) this season. The Owls ranked second in the league in pass defense (175.8).
Former Alabama assistant coach Howard Schnellenberger started the FAU program from scratch in 2001. Schnellenberger was the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1961-65. The Crimson Tide won the national championship in 1961, 1964 and 1965. Schnellenberger played for Bryant at Kentucky in 1952-53.
This marks the program’s fifth bowl since 2007, the first season FAU was eligible to play in a bowl game, and third bowl game in the last four years. FAU has previously played in the 2007 New Orleans Bowl (FAU 44, Memphis 27), 2008 Motor City Bowl (FAU 24, Central Michigan 21), 2017 Boca Raton Bowl (FAU 50, Akron 3) and 2019 Boca Raton (FAU 52, SMU 28).
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes four early-season college football games, 17 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 400 hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.