Football

Miami Beach Bowl set to go with C-USA, AAC again

Shifting dimensions:  Marlins Park was able to host a football game by putting te end zones in foul territory outside the third base line and near the right field fence.
Shifting dimensions: Marlins Park was able to host a football game by putting te end zones in foul territory outside the third base line and near the right field fence. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Next year’s Miami Beach Bowl will match an American Athletic Conference team against a Conference USA team, the bowl’s executive director Carlos Padilla said Monday.

“There is an option for us if there’s a Power Five conference team with nowhere to go, we could choose them if it makes sense for us,” Padilla said. “But right now, we’re locked into Conference USA.”

Although Conference USA is the league of FIU and FAU — and Padilla said two weeks ago he leaned heavily on FIU athletic director Pete Garcia as he brought the game together — neither does the job of putting people in Miami Beach hotel rooms. Providing a desirable place for partner conference teams to go to a bowl game and helping advertise Miami Beach are the game’s main raison d’etres.

Padilla couldn’t have been happier about the game — “I’m speechless, I don’t know what to say. It’s early in the bowl season, but it’s going to be tough for anybody to have a game as exciting as that one" — and was philosophical about the crowd. The actual attendance was about 60 percent of the officially announced at 20,761.

“Everybody wants to sell out every year, but that’s not reality,” Padilla said. “It was OK for us. I think the fans that got here, I think they realize it’s a great product we’re going to put on the field every single year. It’s a learning curve for a lot of people, especially in the local community. They don’t know much about us. They haven’t heard about us. I think tonight will help in trying to get the word out as to who we are.”

Shifting dimensions

As to the obvious question of how a football field fit into Marlins Park…

The end zones were in foul territory outside the third base line and near the right field fence. Most of the fans were seated behind the visiting dugout and behind home plate.

The home run sculpture operated partially during the game (sans lights). The roof was open, creating a half-field shadow early in the game. By the fourth quarter, the entire field was shaded.

“I think this was a great venue,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I not only enjoyed the atmosphere and the venue, but the whole experience. I would recommend it for other teams.”

This and that

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BYU has been known for shootout bowl games since the early days of the Holiday Bowl, the most famous of which saw BYU come from 20 points down in the final five minutes to beat Southern Methodist 46-45 in 1980. The 103 points in Monday’s Miami Beach Bowl beat that 1980 Holiday Bowl for most combined points in BYU bowl history, although it took overtime play to do it.

▪ Among the many Memphis bowl game records broken were most points by a kicker (Josh Elliott had 13) and most extra points (Elliott kicked seven). The previous records of 12 and five, respectively, were held by current New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Elliott’s 120 points this season rank second all-time at Memphis behind NFL running back DeAngelo Williams’ 138 in 2004.

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