ESPN’s made-for-TV bowl season has finally arrived in South Florida.
The third annual Miami Beach Bowl, which pits Central Michigan and the Golden Hurricane (more on that below) of Tulsa, kicks off Monday afternoon at Marlins Park on the site of the old Orange Bowl which, of course, used to be the home of the Orange Bowl Classic.
Few will mistake Monday’s matchup with the glorious Orange Bowl games of the past but the Miami Beach Bowl has provided entertaining games in its brief history including a thrilling Memphis win over BYU — which lead to a brawl — in the inaugural game two years ago.
Last year, current Dolphins’ quarterback Brandon Doughty passed for 461 yards with three touchdowns as Western Kentucky beat South Florida 45-35.
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The Miami Beach Bowl, which is on ESPN at 2:30, kicks off South Florida’s small but growing bowl season as there are now three bowl games in the region — not including the Bahamas Bowl.
On Tuesday, the Boca Raton Bowl also celebrates its third anniversary with a pair of Miami Beach Bowl alums as former University School quarterback Mike White leads Western Kentucky against Memphis at FAU Stadium (on ESPN) at 7 p.m.
The big bowl down here, obviously, is the Orange Bowl which is played at Hard Rock Stadium and features a marquee matchup with ranked schools Michigan (10-2) and Florida State (9-3) on Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. (yes, ESPN).
As for Tulsa’s nickname, a story in the Tulsa World broke it down last year.
Legend has it that the school — which previously went with such monickers as Kendallites and Presbyterians — were looking for a catchy nickname back in 1922.
New coach Howard Archer wanted to call his team the ‘Golden Tornadoes’ only Georgia Tech was using some variation of that name at the time.
So, Archer settled on ‘Golden Hurricane’ after a team vote. The 1922 Tulsa team then went out and beat Texas A&M and finished the season 9-0.
The nickname stuck.
SOUTH FLORIDA BOWL SEASON
Miami Beach Bowl, Marlins Park (2:30 p.m./ESPN)
Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Tulsa (9-3)
Boca Raton Bowl, FAU Stadium (7 p.m/ESPN)
Memphis (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (10-3)
▪ Friday, Dec. 30
Capital One Orange Bowl, Hard Rock Stadium (8 p.m./ESPN)
No. 6 Michigan (9-2) vs. No. 11 Florida State (9-3)