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First Responder Bowl

The First Responder Bowl is an NCAA post-season college football bowl game played annually in the Dallas, Texas, area. The bowl was first held on January 1, 2011, and since 2014 has been contested in late December. All editions of the bowl have been held at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park in Dallas with one exception; since the Cotton Bowl was being used for the 2020 NHL Winter Classic and was not available, the 2019 edition of the bowl was played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the campus of Southern Methodist University in nearby University Park, Texas.

Originally commissioned as the Dallas Football Classic, it has undergone name changes due to changes in sponsorship. From 2011 to 2012, it was named the TicketCity Bowl after sponsor TicketCity. It was then known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl when PlainsCapital Bank (2013) and Zaxby's (2014–2017) were its sponsors. Since 2018, the game has been sponsored by Servpro and officially known as the Servpro First Responder Bowl.

History

The game was tentatively called the Dallas Football Classic until TicketCity, an online reseller of sports and entertainment tickets, became the first title sponsor, renaming the game as the TicketCity Bowl. This game physically replaced the Cotton Bowl Classic, which moved from its longtime eponymous home to AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington in 2010. In the 2011 edition, the inaugural playing of the bowl, Texas Tech of the Big 12 Conference defeated Northwestern of the Big Ten Conference.

After its first two playings, the bowl was renamed as the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The 2013 edition, the first to be so named, saw Oklahoma State of the Big 12 defeat Purdue of the Big Ten. PlainsCapital Bank was the title sponsor in 2013, followed by Zaxby's as the title sponsor from 2014 to 2017.

The 2018 edition was the first to be named the First Responder Bowl, with Servpro as the title sponsor. That game was cancelled due to severe weather with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter, and is consider a no-contest for the teams involved; Boise State of the Mountain West Conference and Boston College of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Stadium

The Cotton Bowl stadium opened in 1932. Originally known as the Fair Park Bowl, it is located in Fair Park, site of the State Fair of Texas. Due to the immense crowds that SMU running back Doak Walker drew to the stadium during his college career in the late 1940s, the stadium became known as "The House That Doak Built." The Cotton Bowl Classic called the stadium home from the bowl's inception in 1937 until the 2009 game, after which it moved to what is now AT&T Stadium. The stadium also served as the original home of Dallas' first, ill-fated National Football League franchise in 1952. Later, and far more successfully, the NFL's Dallas Cowboys called the Cotton Bowl home for 11 years, from the team's formation in 1960 until 1971, when the Cowboys moved to Texas Stadium. The American Football League's Dallas Texans likewise began play at the Cotton Bowl in 1960, but were unable to compete successfully financially with Cowboys and after only three money-losing seasons moved to Kansas City, where they became quite successful on and off the field as the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 2019 edition was held at to Gerald J. Ford Stadium in University Park, Texas, to accommodate the 2020 NHL Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl.

Tie-ins

The First Responder Bowl has tie-ins with the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and Conference USA (C-USA).

From 2014 through 2019, the Big Ten is contracted to send a team each season, with alternating appearances from the Big 12 (even seasons) and C-USA (odd seasons). The Big 12's rotating appearance schedule has been renewed through the 2025–26 football season. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has also announced a tie-in with the bowl beginning in the 2020–21 football season in which the bowl would be one of three bowl games the ACC could send a team to.

For the 2013 season, the Big Ten did not have enough bowl-eligible teams, so the selection committee chose an at-large team, UNLV from the Mountain West Conference, to take their place. For the 2015 season, the Big 12 did not have enough bowl-eligible teams, so the selection committee selected the Washington Huskies from the Pac-12 Conference to take its place. For the 2016 season, the Big Ten sent four teams to CFP bowls, so the selection committee chose an at-large team, independent Army, to take its place. In 2017 and 2018, Conference USA was unable to send teams due to not enough members of their conference having bowl eligibility. In 2017, the Pac-12 sent Utah to face West Virginia from the Big 12. In 2018, the Big Ten did not have any remaining bowl eligible teams to send; the matchup, which was not played to completion, pitted Boise State of the Mountain West versus Boston College of the ACC. In 2019, Western Michigan became the first Mid-American Conference (MAC) team invited to the bowl.

After having been played on January 1 or January 2 for its first four editions, the game moved to a late December date beginning with the 2014 season.Bold conference denotes winner of games played; the 2018 game was abandoned, due to weather.

Game results

Rankings are based on the AP Poll prior to the game being played.

No-contest, game cancelled due to weather.

MVPs

Most appearances

Updated through the December 2019 edition (10 games, 20 total appearances). ;Teams with multiple appearances;Teams with a single appearance Won: Army, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Utah, Washington, Western Kentucky
Lost: Illinois, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Southern Miss, UNLV, West Virginia, Western Michigan
No contest: Boise State, Boston College

Appearances by conference

Updated through the December 2019 edition (10 games, 20 total appearances).
  • The 2018 game, scheduled between ACC and Mountain West teams, was a no-contest due to weather; no win or loss resulting.
  • Games marked with an asterisk (*) were played in January of the following calendar year.
  • Independent appearances: Army (2016)

    Game records

    Media coverage



    ESPNU televised the first four games. Since December 2014, the game has aired on ESPN.