About the Bowl
The Independence Bowl’s rich history spans more than four decades. Established in 1976, the Independence Bowl received its name because of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. Throughout the first 43 years of the game’s history, 71 First Round NFL Draft selections – including 2019 sixth overall pick Daniel Jones, four Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, 19 College Football Hall of Famers – including 2018 honorees Frank Beamer and Mack Brown, and four National Championship-winning coaches have participated in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl.
Big I-Bowl Milestones
During the early years of the Independence Bowl, the Southland Conference – now at the NCAA FCS level – provided their conference champion as the host for the event. McNeese State captured the Southland Conference crown and squared off against the University of Tulsa. A touchdown run with 37 seconds left from McNeese’s Oliver Hadnot delivered the Cowboys of McNeese a 20-16 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. A crowd of 19,164 fans watched the inaugural game in the stadium named after the Independence Bowl.
The Independence Bowl realized a dream come true as the Tigers of LSU invaded Shreveport to take on the Michigan State Spartans. With the first sellout in bowl history, 48,835 fans watched as 21 points were scored in 26 seconds of play during the first half, including back-to-back kickoff return touchdowns from LSU’s Eddie Kennison and Michigan State’s Derrick Mason. The Tigers came away with the 45-26 victory, and Shreveport-Bossier City, along with the LSU Tigers, bridged the gap between northern and southern Louisiana.
The 22nd Independence Bowl marked two milestones, with an attendance record of 50,459 that still stands today, and the final year with Poulan/Weed Eater as the title sponsor. Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead and found themselves on top 6-3 at the half, but the second half was almost all LSU. Tiger running back Rondell Mealey broke several personal and I-Bowl records with 222 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Shreveport’s own Abram Booty added one touchdown, as the Tigers rolled to a 27-9 victory.
Ole Miss upset Oklahoma as the “Deuce ran loose,” featuring the longest touchdown run in Independence Bowl history from Ole Miss’ Deuce McAllister (80 yards). The Rebels held the lead for most of the night, and after Oklahoma took thier first lead of the game in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss kicked a field goal in the final seconds to secure the 27-25 victory. The victory was Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe’s second in two years and was over an Oklahoma team that would win the National Championship the next year.
The 25th Independence Bowl went down in history as the “Snow Bowl,” as a blizzard hit Shreveport during pre-game warmups. This was a matchup of traditional SEC and Big 12 powers, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. The game went to overtime, when Texas A&M running back Ja’Mar Toombs scored a touchdown, but the extra point was blocked and returned for two points by Mississippi State. The Bulldogs would score on their overtime possession to win 43-41.
The 40th Anniversary of the I-Bowl turned out to be one of the most memorable, featuring a wild shootout with Virginia Tech sneaking past Tulsa, 55-52. Legendary coach Frank Beamer closed out his career with a victory in the very stadium he won his first bowl game 23 years prior. The teams obliterated the I-Bowl record book, combining for the most points (107), TDs (14), rushing touchdowns (9), yards (1,161), most points scored in a quarter (45).
The 42nd Independence Bowl was the first with Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar as the title sponsor. The game saw the first-time participating Florida State dominate Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles took the initial 6-0 lead, but would be outscored 42-7 over the remainder of the game to fall 42-13. FSU freshman quarterback James Blackman threw a then I-Bowl record four touchdown passes, three of which went to Auden Tate, tying the I-Bowl record for receiving touchdown’s.
The Duke Blue Devils rolled over the Temple Owls 56-27 in the 43rd Independence Bowl to bring David Cutcliffe’s I-Bowl record to 4-0. The Owls led 27-21 at halftime, but the Blue Devils stormed back with an I-Bowl record 35 second half points. Duke set the record for most points in an I-Bowl, while Jones set I-Bowl records for passing yards (423), passing touchdowns (5) and total touchdowns (6), and Rahming set the record for receiving yards (240) and all-purpose yards (286).
Birth of a Bowl (1976)
The Sports Foundation gained certification for the Independence Bowl game from the NCAA on its first try. The Southland Conference champion served as the host team. The first game matching McNeese State and the University of Tulsa had a budget of $75,000 and paid each participating team $25,000, drawing 19,164 fans.
The Independence Bowl pursued and achieved open-ended status on both sides ending the affiliation with the Southland Conference. Texas A&M from the Southwest Conference defeated Jimmy Johnson’s Oklahoma State Cowboys from the Big Eight, 33-16.
Title Sponsor (1990)
Poulan/Weed Eater signed on as the game’s first title sponsor in 1990.
The 1992 match-up between Wake Forest and Oregon marked the first Independence Bowl to be shown on ESPN.
SEC Tie-In (1995)
The Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowl reached an agreement with the Southeastern Conference to secure the fifth choice from that prestigious conference.
Biggest Matchup (1997)
The Bowl had its best-case scenario as local favorite LSU was selected to play Notre Dame in Independence Bowl XXII.
Next Title Sponsor (1998)
Sanford, based in Bellwood, Illinois, became the Independence Bowl’s second title sponsor, signing a three-year deal for naming rights. That relationship helped to further elevate the status of the Independence Bowl.
Big 12 Tie-In (1999)
Independence Bowl officials reached a three-year agreement with the Big 12 for that conference to provide a team to the post-season game.
SEC Renewal (1999)
The partnership with the Southeastern Conference was extended through 2001.
Title Sponsor (2001)
On January 10 of 2001, MainStay signed on as the newest title sponsor of the Independence Bowl. The subsidiary of New York Life signed an agreement that extended through the 2003 game.
Conference Agreements (2005)
Agreements with both the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences were renewed through the 2009 season.
ESPN Extension (2006)
In August of 2006 Independence Bowl officials announced a contract extension with ESPN that would run through the 2009 game.
Advocare V100 independence Bowl (2009)
On Thursday, May 21 of 2009 Independence Bowl officials announced AdvoCare as the fifth title sponsor in the bowl’s 34-year history.
ACC VS. MWC (2010)
Beginning in 2010 the Independence Bowl matched up teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Mountain West Conference. Those partnerships ran through the 2011 season.
ESPN Through 2019
In August of 2011, ESPN and Independence Bowl officials announced a new mutli-year agreement that would extend the partnership through 2017. In 2013, the agreement was extended until 2019.
SEC VS. ACC (2012)
In 2012, the Independence Bowl announced it resumed partnership with the Southeastern Conference. The matchup with a team from the SEC and a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference ran through the 2013 season.
Agreements Renewed (2014)
From 2014 to 2019, the Independence Bowl will have primary conference agreements with the ACC and SEC. For the first time in its history, the Independence Bowl also signed secondary agreements, with Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference.
Camping World Independence Bowl (2015)
In July of 2015, Independence Bowl officials announced Camping World as the newest title sponsor.
Walk-On's Independence Bowl (2017)
The Independence Bowl Foundation signed a three-year agreement with Baton Rouge-based Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar as title sponsor. At the time of the partnership’s inception, Walk-On’s had stores in Louisiana and Texas, with plans to open new restaurants all across the Southeastern United States.
Independence Bowl Foundation
P.O Box 1723, Shreveport LA 71166 | 401 Market Street, Shreveport, LA 71101 | 318.221.0712