In 2015, Little Rock was one of a few cities vying for a place in college football’s bowl season. They aimed to bring bowl-eligible teams from the AAC and Sun Belt for a game called the Rice Bowl. Ultimately, their bid fell short and the city remains without a bowl to this day.
Despite the broken dreams of the Rice Bowl, Little Rock may finally have it’s bowl thanks to an unlikely source. When McMurry University announced its schedule for this season, they dedicated one sentence to their game against McMurry, simply noting Historic War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock would host the game.
This Saturday, both schools will kick off the season in Little Rock in a game that brings much excitement to the city.
Neither school is particularly close to Little Rock with McMurry being 500 miles away in Abilene, TX and Birmingham Southern not much closer at 370 miles away. Yet, this forced tourism is what makes bowl games great. For both fanbases, it is a chance to tour one of the South’s most historic cities and stadiums.
Birmingham Southern is no stranger to War Memorial Stadium as in the Spring 2021 season, the Southern Athletic Association hosted their championship weekend at War Memorial. Unfortunately, the Panthers lost a 38-15 contest to Trinity University of Texas.
McMurry has yet to play at War Memorial Stadium but has played at other historical college football venues such as the Cotton Bowl in 1936 versus Austin College and two games at Independence Stadium, against Centenary in 1947 and against Baptist Christian in 1974.
Despite McMurry’s 2-7 record in 2021, Birmingham Southern gives the game plenty of bowl appeal, as they were a 10-2 playoff team a year ago.
When we think of bowl games, we do not think of lower-division games, but Little Rock’s Kickoff Game has all the pomp-and-circumstance for a bowl. Hopefully, the game matches the occasion.