The Valley will play host to two very different bowl games this winter: the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
The Fiesta Bowl announced Sunday that it will host the Baylor Bears and UCF Knights on January 1st at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Both teams are 11-1 this season after winning their respective conference championships.
Baylor defeated the Texas Longhorns Saturday afternoon to win its first Big 12 championship since the conference’s formation in 1996 and its sixth conference title in school history. The school’s 11-1 record is a school record for wins in a season, and its 6th place ranking in the BCS is the highest in school history.
Central Florida is also coming off of its best season in the history of the program. The Knights are 15th in the BCS rankings, the highest they have ever been ranked. The school is coming off of an eight game win streak that is also a school record.
“If the Gator fans want to go to a bowl game, they’re not going to follow their team this year,” Executive Director of the Fiesta Bowl Robert Shelton said when asked about the two teams’ smaller fan bases. “I think an awful lot of people in each of those states identify with the school whether they went there or not.”
The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl will host the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Kansas State Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28th. The Wolverines finished the season at 7-5, good for fifth in the Big Ten Legends Division. The Wildcats are heading to Tempe only a year after playing in the Fiesta Bowl back in Jan. 2013.
The Wolverines suffered a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the final minute of their regular season finale. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl will be Michigan’s fourth straight bowl game, and its 37th bowl appearance in the last 39 years. During the 2013 season Michigan climbed as high as 11th in the AP poll back in Week 3.
Bill Snyder and the Wildcats are also appearing in their fourth straight bowl game. Kansas State failed to appear in the rankings at any point during the season. After starting the season by losing four of their first six games, the Wildcats came back to win five of their last six games.
“Everybody likes to play top notch teams,” Shelton added in regards to Kansas State downgrading to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl after playing in the Fiesta Bowl last season. “I feel very optimistic about the attendance of that game, it’s played in a great stadium, Sun Devil Stadium, a college environment.”
The Fiesta Bowl will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. MST on January 1st. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl will take place at 8:15 p.m. MST on December 28th. Both games will be broadcast on television by ESPN.