THE GAME

Bahamas Bowl History

BAHAMAS BOWL ANNOUNCED – 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 Obie Wilchcombe and bowl founder Lea Miller at Atlantis – Paradise Island.

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.

“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

WKU QB Brandon Doughty, the 2014 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl Offensive Player of the Game, goes back to pass against Central Michigan (Photo Credit: Robert Weems/Bahamas Bowl)

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 13,422 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.

Western Michigan WR Corey Davis races 80 yards for a TD in the 2015 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Photo Credit: Ben Solomon/ESPN Images)

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.

The two teams combined for 475 yards of total offense and 34 points in the first quarter.

Western Michigan finished the day with an impressive 613 yards of total offense, and the Broncos, second in FBS in time of possession, held the ball for nearly 35 minutes.

SEVEN ALUMNI SELECTED IN 2016 NFL DRAFT – APRIL 28-30, 2016

A bowl-record seven student-athletes who played in the first two Popeyes Bahamas Bowls were selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, held in Chicago.

All four universities that participated in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl – Central Michigan (2014), Middle Tennessee (2015), WKU (2014) and Western Michigan (2015) – had at least one player selected during the NFL’s seven-round draft. Inaugural 2014 champion WKU led the way with three selections, and 2015 champion Western Michigan had two players taken.

In the third round (No. 64 overall), Middle Tennessee safety Kevin Byard was selected by the Tennessee Titans.

2016 POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL – DECEMBER 23, 2016

The 2016 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl featured Old Dominion of Conference USA against Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference.

ODU RB Ray Lawry, the Offensive Player of the Game, bulls through the Eastern Michigan defense in the 2016 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Photo Credit: Ben Solomon/ESPN Images)

A crowd of 13,422 in Robinson National Stadium and those watching on ESPN saw another exciting Popeyes Bahamas Bowl as Old Dominion beat Eastern Michigan 24-20 for the Monarchs’ first-ever bowl victory.

Led by Offensive Player of the Game running back Ray Lawry and his 133 rushing yards, the Monarchs (10-3) left the Bahamas with a six-game win streak and their first bowl trophy. Quarterback David Washington added 188 passing yards and three touchdowns for ODU.

Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback did all he could to keep the Eagles (7-6) in the game, throwing for 300 yards and two second-half touchdowns, but it was not enough to help EMU to a title in their first bowl game in 29 years.

Through the first 30 minutes, Old Dominion was the only team able to put points on the board, holding a 10-0 lead at the half.

Eastern Michigan dominated the time of possession, holding the ball 32:30 to the Monarchs’ 27:30, and converted on a season-high 13 third-down attempts, but it was the Old Dominion defense that made one final stand late in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles had a chance late, driving the ball to midfield, but couldn’t keep their drive going, punting the ball back to Old Dominion. ODU ran out the final 5:21 to secure the victory.

ODU senior linebacker TJ Ricks was named Defensive Player of the Game after finishing with nine tackles, including one for a loss.

SIX ALUMNI SELECTED IN 2016 NFL DRAFT – APRIL 27-29, 2017

Six student-athletes who played in the first three Popeyes Bahamas Bowls were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

In the first round (No. 5 overall), Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis was selected by the Tennessee Titans, the highest selection of a alumni in the history of the bowl. Davis set bowl records with eight receptions for 183 yards and scored a touchdown in the Broncos’ 45-31 victory over Middle Tennessee in 2015.

Three of the universities that participated in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl – WKU (2014), Western Michigan (2015) and Eastern Michigan (2016) – had at least one player selected during the NFL’s seven-round draft. The bowl’s 2015 champion Western Michigan led the way with three selections, while inaugural 2014 champion WKU had two players taken and 2016 runner-up Eastern Michigan had one player selected.

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