A quick history of the Fiesta Bowl (1/2/12)

Tonight’s Fiesta Bowl between Stanford and Oklahoma State should be a high-scoring affair — something the game has been known for. Last year Oklahoma and Connecticut combined for 68 points and the 2007 game — a memorable matchup between Boise State and Oklahoma — saw 85 points put on the board.

Stanford is averaging 43.6 points-per-game (7th highest in the nation) while Oklahoma State averages 49.3 (good for 2nd highest in nation behind Houston.)

You can OtherScreen the Fiesta Bowl tonight on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Tonight’s game should be a classic Fiesta Bowl as it pits the #1 Big 12 team against an at-large school that has something to prove — Stanford from the Pac-12. Both teams are 11-1 and were victims of strength-of-schedule disputes. This Fiesta Bowl is by no means the most controversial as this game has always had a lot of drama — the Fiesta Bowl committee has also had lots of controversy.

The first Fiesta Bowl was in 1971 and was created after the WAC felt slighted for not being invited to some of the bigger bowl games. It wasn’t until 1987 that the Fiesta Bowl gained national prominence as Penn State and Miami met in Tempe for the “national championship.” Before this, National Championships were typically played in only the Cotton, Orange, Sugar, and Rose Bowls.

The Fiesta Bowl was also the site of the 1989 championship game between Notre Dame and West Virginia and helped gain more prestige to the Fiesta Bowl — known today as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl; other sponsors have included Sunkist and IBM.

In 1998, the Fiesta Bowl was chosen as one of the four BCS bowls instead of the once prestigious Cotton Bowl. In 2005, the Fiesta Bowl became the first BCS bowl game to invite a non-BCS conference team — Utah — to play. Utah beat Big East Champion Pittsburgh 35-7. Since then, the Fiesta Bowl has seen non-BCS Boise State beat Oklahoma in the 2007 game as well as Boise State defeat non-BCS TCU in the 2010 game.

Recently, the Fiesta Bowl has been involved in a scandal that included Fiesta Bowl employees making political campaign contributions — which were allegedly reimbursed by the Fiesta Bowl budget — as well as hosting several “Fiesta Frolic” parties with inappropriate funds for BCS committee members, athletic directors, and elected officials. Fiesta Bowl CEO John Lurker was fired after the results of an internal report were published. The BCS fined the Fiesta Bowl $1 million, but did not expel them from the BCS.

Penn State has had the most success in Fiesta Bowl history as they are a perfect 6-0. Arizona State, Ohio State and Nebraska also have played in six games each with varying results (see chart below for appearances and records for Fiesta Bowl.) Miami has the least amount of luck in the Fiesta Bowl as they are 0-4.

This will be the first time Stanford plays in the Fiesta Bowl and only the second time for Oklahoma State — whose other game was in 1974 against BYU.

Click chart for larger version

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