THE GAME

About The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

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After a pair of successful bowl weeks and two exciting games, the third-annual Popeyes Bahamas Bowl will kick off at 1 pm on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 at Nassau’s Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

Proving the slogan that bowl games are “Better in the Bahamas,” bowl week in Nassau always lives up to that with a mix of sun, sand and football in one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world.

The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl was enhanced after ESPN Events added the game to an impressive stable of events in May 2015. And, with ESPN on board, the 2015 bowl week built on the success of the inaugural bowl by providing student-athletes, conference partners, alumni, fans and sponsors a first-class international bowl experience. The 2015 ESPN telecast had a significant increase in viewership over the inaugural game.

A large part of the bowl’s success in the first two years has come from title sponsor Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, a leader in the New Orleans segment of the foodservice industry and the world’s second largest quick-service chicken concept based on the number of units. A multiyear extension of the title sponsorship of the bowl occurred in June 2015. Last December, Popeyes opened its first restaurant in Nassau and a second is currently under construction.

Another key partner in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl is the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Using the local slogan “Football, Family and Fun”, Bahamians of all ages came out to Robinson National Stadium to experience gameday the way it is done in at college stadiums in the U.S.

The Atlantis Bahamas is another important element to the bowl experience, as it houses both teams for four nights at its world-class resort and water park on Paradise Island.

The 2015 game featured Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference and Middle Tennessee of Conference USA in the only current FBS-level bowl game outside of the United States.

A crowd of 13,123 in Robinson National Stadium and those watching on ESPN saw another high-scoring Popeyes Bahamas Bowl as Western Michigan beat Middle Tennessee 45-31 for the Broncos’ first-ever bowl victory.

WMU’s Jamauri Bogan ran for a career-high 215 yards and four touchdowns to power the Broncos to victory. Just like the previous year, the contest between Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee was one big play after another as the two teams combined for 1,055 yards of total offense and seven scoring plays of 29 or more yards.

Bogan, the 2015 MAC Freshman of the Year, did all of his damage on 19 carries for Offensive Player of the Game honors, while teammate Grant DePalma was named the bowl’s Defensive Player of the Game after leading all tacklers with 12 tackles from his linebacker position. The bowl was honored as Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Christie and Bahamas Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe joined Popeyes Chief Marketing Officer-US Hector Muñoz for the postgame presentations.

Fans at the game were treated to a Popeyes Bahamas Bowl FanFest featuring several interactive elements around Robinson National Stadium, a t-shirt giveaway, a pregame performance by the famed Bahamas All-Stars band, the U.S. National Anthem sung by Popeyes commercial spokesperson Deidrie Henry, a halftime Junkanoo showdown by the Valley Boys and the Saxons and a Popeyes Football Toss Challenge.

The game capped off a tremendous bowl week for everyone involved, who all enjoyed the famous hospitality that the Bahamas offers to visitors.

A welcome party at the Atlantis after the teams’ arrivals gave the student-athletes, team travel parties and VIPs a taste of both Popeyes and the Bahamas. The student-athletes attended a beach bash the next night at Atlantis and had a chance to enjoy food, fun and fellowship on the beach with spectacular views of the Caribbean and the striking Atlantis resort.

One of the highlights of bowl week was when the student-athletes from Middle Tennessee and Western Michigan helped fulfill the mission statement of the bowl as they gave back to the youth of the Bahamas by way of a visit to the Ranfurly Homes for Children in Nassau and a Youth Football Leadership Clinic conducted by USA Football and the bowl. The large contingent of student-athletes from both schools brought smiles to the Bahamian youth at both events.

“The people in the Bahamas really opened their arms to all of us from Kalamazoo, Michigan the whole week, and they made us feel a part of their culture,” said Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. “It was an incredible experience, one I won’t forget and our student-athletes won’t either. The hospitality was absolutely elite from everyone at the Atlantis, Popeyes, the bowl committee and ESPN.”

“The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl was a wonderful opportunity for our players, university, and fans,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill. “For 90 to 95 percent of our team it was the only time they have had the chance to leave the country and go experience a place like the Bahamas. The hospitality was second to none, Atlantis was better than advertised, and the weather was just phenomenal. We loved it and felt honored to be a part of such a first-class event.”

The economic impact of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl was once again significant in 2015 as the bowl, ESPN Events, Popeyes, Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee spent nearly $2 million in traveling to and during their stay in the Bahamas. Significant money was spent in travel, shipping, hotel, food, supplies, advertising, entertainment and local transportation. Several local Nassau businesses worked with the bowl and supplied product, supplies, equipment and services. In the future, the bowl will continue to visit the Ranfurly Homes, conduct the Youth Football Leadership Clinic and engage the Bahamas All-Stars band and Junkanoo groups.

Valued support for the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl comes from a diverse group of sponsors, especially Atlantis and Caribbean Bottling Company Bahamas (Coca-Cola). Local Bahamas sponsors Bristol Cellar, Burns House, The Tribune and Unilever join numerous Nassau businesses in making the bowl a success each year. The Bahamas Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the National Sports Authority and their staffs help prepare Robinson National Stadium for the game, and transportation partners Bahamas Experience, Leisure Travel and Tours and Majestic Travel make sure the teams, staffs, VIPs and fans get around New Providence Island to the many bowl events with ease.

The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl Advisory Committee, made up of Bahamian business leaders, works with the bowl staff year-round to help promote the game and lend assistance where needed.

For the 2016 game, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl has the Mid-American Conference and Conference USA as participating conferences, and Eastern Michigan (MAC) will meet Old Dominion (C-USA) in the Nassau stadium named for the late Bahamian Olympic track star on December 23.

If the first two games, which had a combined 173 points and 24 touchdowns scored, are any indication, fans in the Bahamas will be treated once again to exciting high-flying football, and everyone watching on ESPN will experience the wonder and beauty of the Bahamas.

HISTORY OF THE POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL

BAHAMAS BOWL ANNOUNCED – OCTOBER 14, 2013

From left: Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, NSA-Bahamas Deputy Chairman Anton Sealey, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Harrison Thompson, Bahamas Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, Bahamas Bowl founder/Complete Sports Management President Lea Miller, Atlantis President & Managing Director George Markantonis, Ministry of Tourism Marketing Executive Jeff Rodgers, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and Ministry of Tourism Sports Tourism Director Greg Rolle after the press conference announcing the creation of the Bahamas Bowl – October 14, 2013.

The bowl was announced in Nassau as commissioners from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference along with a representative of the American Athletic Conference were on hand for the official announcement with the Bahamas Minister of Tourism Obe Wilchcombe and bowl founder Lea Miller at Atlantis – Paradise Island.

“As we have learned with our other bowls, student-athletes, coaches and fans get excited about a great destination. It’s hard to imagine a better destination than this wonderful country for a bowl game,” Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said. “We are thankful for the support of The Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Lea Miller in providing not only a great venue, but a fantastic opportunity to showcase the hard work and dedication of our teams.”

“The Mid-American Conference is proud to partner in the creation of the Bahamas Bowl beginning with the 2014 season and to feature the only bowl game outside of the United States,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, Mid-American Conference Commissioner. “This will truly be a one-of-its-kind bowl experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium will be a wonderful host venue, and the accommodations with the Atlantis Resort will certainly be a destination to reward our football programs.”

“The Bahamas Bowl is an innovative event under excellent and experienced management that will be an immediate success and will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our student-athletes,” American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco stated. “We know that our fans will enjoy following their teams to one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and will enjoy watching them, along with a national television audience, in a high-quality game in a state-of-the-art stadium.”

The game was founded by Miller, president of Complete Sports Management, which operated the 2014 game under the auspices of Bahamas Bowl, LLC, a subsidiary of Conference USA.

Richard Giannini, a former athletic director at Southern Miss who founded the Blockbuster Bowl in Miami/Fort Lauderdale in 1990, advised both the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl and Boca Raton Bowl in their inaugural year and served three terms on the NCAA Postseason Football Committee, is the bowl’s Executive Director.

BAHAMAS BOWL CERTIFIED – MAY 1, 2014

The NCAA certified the Bahamas Bowl as part of five new bowl games to begin play after the 2014 regular season.

POPEYES SIGNS AS TITLE SPONSOR – AUGUST 26, 2014

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen was announced as the title sponsor of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

“Popeyes is honored to partner with the Bahamas Bowl to bring this historic bowl game to college football fans everywhere,” said Hector Muñoz, Vice President of Marketing for Popeyes. “Like college football, Popeyes enjoys a rich tradition and passionate fans, and we look forward to a great game and a lot of fun in the Bahamas.”

The historic announcement marks the first time Popeyes has sponsored a college football bowl game.

2014 POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL – DECEMBER 24, 2014

The 2014 inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl featured Western Kentucky of Conference USA against Central Michigan of the Mid-American Conference in the first FBS-level bowl game outside of the United States or Canada since 1937.

A crowd of 13,667 in Robinson National Stadium and those watching on ESPN witnessed the Hilltoppers hold on for a 49-48 victory over the Chippewas in one of the most memorable bowl games of the 2014 season.

WKU built a 49-14 lead after three quarters, but CMU rallied with a 34-point fourth quarter, including a last-gasp, 75-yard, three-lateral pass play that resulted in a touchdown as time expired — a sequence that was named the top play of the 2014 bowl season by ESPN’s SportsCenter. A 2-point conversion pass by the Chippewas that would have won the game was broken up in the back of the end zone. The final series of plays captured the imagination of college football fans who saw countless replays on national and local TV and shared the crazy ending through social media outlets.

WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty was the Offensive Player of the Game after completing 31 of 42 passes for 486 yards and five touchdowns. Hilltopper defensive end Derik Overstreet was the Defensive Player of the Game after he had five tackles, which included two sacks.

Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush threw for 493 yards and a FBS-bowl-record seven TDs in defeat, including the game’s final thrilling TD.

The teams set FBS bowl records for most combined passing touchdowns (12) and combined passing yards (971).

ESPN EVENTS TAKES OVER OWNERSHIP – MAY 12, 2015

ESPN Events announced the acquisition of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl from Bahamas Bowl, LLC, which owned the inaugural game in 2014. The addition of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl makes the game a part of an impressive stable of events in football and basketball for ESPN Events.

“We are excited to be adding the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl to our portfolio of events,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president, ESPN Events. “The inaugural game was a tremendous success, and we hope to build on that by bringing a one-of-a-kind bowl experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. The level of support from the entire country of the Bahamas makes this event truly unique — making this game a true destination event that fans across the country will want to attend and support.”

POPEYES SIGNS MULTIYEAR EXTENSION AS TITLE SPONSOR – JUNE 9, 2015

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen extended its title sponsorship in a multiyear deal with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

“This news signifies the reach and power of the Popeyes brand,” said Hector Muñoz, Chief Marketing Officer – U.S. for Popeyes. “We have established a new tradition with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl that will allow us to connect with fans in a forum they love — college football. Big brands do big things and we cannot think of a better demonstration of Popeyes growth and success.”

FINAL TD OF 2014 POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL REACHES FINALS OF ESPY VOTING – JULY 8, 2015

The improbable finish of the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in which Central Michigan scored a 75-yard, three-lateral touchdown as time expired advanced to the Finals for the 2015 ESPY Best Play award.

CMU’s touchdown, the No. 2 seed in the 16-play bracket, received 69 percent of the online vote to defeat No. 15 seed Dwayne Bravo of the West Indies cricket team in the first round and 60 percent of the online vote to defeat No. 7 seed Tyler Ennis of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in the Round of 8 to move on to the final fan vote.

The Central Michigan players involved in the touchdown were guests of ESPN at the 2015 ESPYS Presented by Capital One from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on July 15.

2015 POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL – DECEMBER 24, 2015

The 2015 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl featured Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference against Middle Tennessee of Conference USA.

A crowd of 13,123 in Robinson National Stadium and the TV audience on ESPN saw Broncos pull away in the fourth quarter for a 45-31 victory over the Blue Raiders — the first-ever bowl victory for Western Michigan.

WMU’s Jamauri Bogan ran 19 times for a career-high 215 yards and four touchdowns to power the Broncos to victory. Just like the previous year, the contest between Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee was one big play after another as the two teams combined for 1,055 yards of total offense and seven scoring plays of 29 or more yards.

Bogan was named the Offensive Player of the Game of the game for his efforts, while WMU linebacker Grant DePalma was named the game’s Defensive Player of the Game. DePalma led all tacklers with 12 stops (five solo) and a tackle for loss.

WMU quarterback Zach Terrell was 18-of-26 passing for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Corey Davis caught eight balls for 183 yards and a TD.

Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill had a solid day for Middle Tennessee, completing 26-of-39 passes for 327 yards and three scores to lead the Blue Raider offense.

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