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Organized by community leaders out of a need to fill hotel rooms during a traditionally slow period in a world-class destination city, the Las Vegas Bowl first kicked off on Dec. 18, 1992. It has since become one of the Silver State’s premier annual events and been nationally televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC every year of its existence.

Of the 39 bowl games recognized by the NCAA, the Las Vegas Bowl is now the 16th-oldest game overall and ranks No. 13 in age on a list of current bowls that have remained in one city during their entire history.

Originally pitting the champions of the Big West and Mid-American conferences, the game’s initial offering was a nail-biter as Bowling Green held on to slip by Nevada 35-34 in what was hailed by many as the best bowl game that year.

Known for the next decade as the first bowl each season, the event was switched to later in the month starting in 2001 when hometown entry UNLV defeated Arkansas on December 21. That was the same year that ESPN Regional Television (ERT) now known as ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN Inc., assumed the ownership and management of the Las Vegas Bowl – marking the company’s first such venture.

Games on Christmas Day and then Christmas Eve were staged before organizers settled on a pre-holiday kickoff to annually pit teams from the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences against each other at Sam Boyd Stadium from 2001 through 2019. No less than nine of the current members of the Pac-12 conference (all but Stanford, Colorado and Washington State) have now appeared in the game as the Las Vegas Bowl enjoyed crowds of more than 32,000 for 10 consecutive seasons, including a run of six consecutive sellouts from 2005-2010. On Dec. 21, 2006, BYU defeated Oregon in front of what was then the largest crowd to ever witness a team sporting event in the state of Nevada – 44,615.

As its host community in recent years turned into the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World, the Las Vegas Bowl grew along with it, including moving into one of the planet’s best sports facilities – 60,000-seat Allegiant Stadium — which opened its doors in 2020. The move into the $2 billion, state-of-the-art stadium located just off the Las Vegas Strip allowed the Las Vegas Bowl to enter into a historic agreement that features a team from the Pac-12 vs. a team from either the powerhouse SEC or Big Ten Conference on a rotating basis.

The new alignment of three top conferences that feature 40 powerhouse brands spanning the nation debuted with Wisconsin defeating Arizona State in what was the event’s first post-Christmas kickoff on Dec. 30, 2021. One year later, the SEC sent traditional power Florida to the state of Nevada for the first time where it took on Oregon State in what was, amazingly, the first prescheduled bowl meeting between the two conferences since 1989. To round out the current agreement, the Pac-12 will face a team from the Big Ten in 2023 and ’25 while the SEC will return in ’24.


The Las Vegas Bowl has been home to some notable college football firsts.

In 1995, Toledo and Nevada played in what was the first-ever overtime game on the Division I FBS level. The existing overtime rules were put into effect only for bowl games that season and the Rockets and Wolf Pack were the only teams that needed the extra time in the postseason. OT became standard for all college football games the very next season.

In 2002, Katie Hnida of New Mexico became the first woman to play in a FBS-level game when she entered in the first quarter to attempt an extra point. The attempt, which was low, was blocked by UCLA during the Bruins’ 27-13 victory.

2011’s game featured three scoring plays 98 yards or longer and was believed to be the first bowl game in history that included a kickoff return for a touchdown to start each half (Boise State’s Doug Martin opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return while Arizona State’s Rashad Ross began the second half with a 98-yard KOR for a TD). That same game saw the No. 6 Broncos’ Kellen Moore become the first quarterback to reach the 50-win mark in NCAA history (50-3).

The 2016 bowl attracted national attention as San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey became the rushing king of college football when he passed Ron Dayne’s to finish with a career mark of 6,405 yards.


The Las Vegas Bowl Hall of Fame holds induction ceremonies every five years. In 2011, the inaugural class helped commemorate the bowl reaching the 20-year milestone. The group was made up of NFL star and former Oregon State RB Steven Jackson; CFL record-holder and former Utah State QB Anthony Calvillo; former NFL and UNLV coach John Robinson; and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) president and one of the game’s founding fathers, Rossi Ralenkotter.

The bowl’s second hall of fame class welcomed legendary voice Brent Musburger, who called a record seven Las Vegas Bowls as a play-by-play announcer; former Cal and NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch; and another founding father, Rob Dondero.

The most-recent class, inducted in 2021, featured former head coaching great Chris Petersen, who won a Las Vegas Bowl at two different schools (Boise State and Washington); all-time winningest collegiate quarterback at Boise State Kellen Moore; and former ESPN Events college football bowl game visionary Pete Derzis.


SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl (2021-present)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/23/23Northwestern 14, Utah 720,897David Braun/Kyle WhittinghamBen Bryant, QB, Northwestern
12/17/22Oregon State 30, Florida 329,750Jonathan Smith/Billy NapierBen Gulbranson, QB, Oregon State
12/30/21Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 1332,515Paul Cryst/Herm EdwardsBraelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin
2020No Game – COVID

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (2018-19)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/21/19Washington 38, No. 18 Boise State 734,197Chris Petersen/Bryan HarsinElijah Molden, DB, Washington
12/15/18Fresno State 31, Arizona State 2037,146Jeff Tedford/Herm EdwardsRonnie eivers, RB, Fresno State

Las Vegas Bowl (2016-17)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/16/17Boise State 38, Oregon 2836,432Bryan Harsin/Mario Cristobal*Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
12/17/16San Diego State 34, Houston 1029,286Rocky Long/Major ApplewhiteDonnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (2013-15)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/19/15Utah 35, BYU 2842,213Kyle Whittingham/Bronco MendenhallTevin Carter, DB, Utah
12/20/14Utah 45, Colorado State 1033,067Kyle Whittingham/Dave Baldwin*Travis Wilson, QB, Utah
12/21/13USC 45, Fresno State 2042,178Clay Helton*/Tim DeRuyterCody Kessler, QB, USC

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (2009-12)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/22/12Boise State 28, Washington 2633,217Chris Petersen/Steve SarkisianBishop Sankey, RB, Washington
12/22/11Boise State 56, Arizona State 2435,720Chris Petersen/Dennis EricksonDoug Martin, RB, Boise State
12/22/10Boise State 26, Utah 341,923Chris Petersen/Kyle WhittinghamKellen Moore, QB, Boise State
12/22/09BYU 44, Oregon State 2040,081Bronco Mendenhall/Mike RileyMax Hall, QB, BYU

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl (2007-08)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/20/08Arizona 31, BYU 2140,047Mike Stoops/Bronco MendenhallWillie Tuitama, QB, Arizona
12/22/07BYU 17, UCLA 1640,712Bronco Mendenhall/DeWayne Walker*Austin Collie, WR, BYU

Pioneer Purevision Las Vegas Bowl (2003-06)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/21/06BYU 38, Oregon 844,615Bronco Mendenhall/Mike BelottiJonny Harline, TE, BYU
12/22/05California 35, BYU 2840,053Jeff Tedford/Bronco MendenhallMarshawn Lynch, RB, California
12/23/04Wyoming 24, UCLA 2127,784Joe Glenn/Karl DorrellCorey Bramlet, QB, Wyoming

Las Vegas Bowl (2003)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/24/03Oregon State 55, New Mexico 1425,437Mike Riley/Rocky LongSteven Jackson, RB, Oregon State

Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl (2001-02)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/25/02UCLA 27, New Mexico 1330,324Ed Kezirian*/Rocky LongCraig Bragg, WR, UCLA
12/25/01Utah 10, USC 630,894Ron McBride/Pete CarrollDameon Hunter, RB, Utah

Las Vegas Bowl (2000)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/21/00UNLV 31, Arkansas 1429,113John Robinson/Houston NuttJason Thomas, QB, UNLV

EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl (1999)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/18/99Utah 17, Fresno State 1628,227Ron McBride/Pat HillMike Anderson, RB, Utah

Las Vegas Bowl (1998)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/19/98North Carolina 20, San Diego State 1321,429Carl Torbush/Ted TollnerRonald Curry, QB, North Carolina

Las Vegas Bowl presented by Reno Air (1997)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/20/97Oregon 41, Air Force 1321,514Mike Belotti/Fisher DeBerryPat Johnson, WR, Oregon

Las Vegas Bowl (1992-96)

DateResultsAttendanceHead CoachesGame MVP
12/18/96Nevada 18, Ball State 1510,118Jeff Tisdel/Bill LynchMike Crawford, LB, Nevada
12/14/95Toledo 40, Nevada 37 (OT)12,500Gary Pinkel/Chris AultWasean Tait, RB, Toledo
12/15/94UNLV 52, Central Michigan 2417,562Jeff Horton/Dick FlynnHenry Bailey, WR, UNLV
12/17/93Utah State 42, Ball State 3315,508Charlie Weatherbie/Paul SchudelAnthony Calvillo, QB, Utah State
12/18/92Bowling Green 35, Nevada 3415,476Gary Blackney/Chris AultErik White, QB, Bowling Green