The Citrus Bowl is an annual college football bowl game played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The bowl is operated by Florida Citrus Sports, a non-profit group that also organizes the Camping World Bowl and Florida Classic.
The game was first played as the Tangerine Bowl in 1947 before being renamed as the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1983. When Capital One was the game's title sponsor between 2001 and 2014, the game was referred to simply as the Capital One Bowl from 2003 to 2014. Other previous sponsors include CompUSA (1994–1999), Ourhouse.com (2000), and Buffalo Wild Wings (2015–2017) and Overton's (2018). Currently, it is being sponsored by Vrbo, a vacation rental marketplace, and is known as the Vrbo Citrus Bowl.
Since becoming one of the premier bowls, the Citrus Bowl is typically played at 1 p.m. EST on New Year's Day, immediately before the Rose Bowl, both of which have been televised on ESPN since 2011. When January 1 is a Sunday, the game has been played on January 2 or December 31, to avoid conflicting with the National Football League schedule. As of 2019, at $8.55 million per team, it has the largest payout of all the non-College Football Playoff (CFP) bowls. In nearly every year since 1985, the game has featured two teams ranked in the Top 25.
The game, which began play in 1947, is one of the oldest of the non-CFP bowls, along with the Gator Bowl and Sun Bowl. By 1952, the game was dubbed the "Little Bowl with the Big Heart", because all the proceeds from the game went to charity.
Before 1968, the game featured matchups between schools throughout the South, often featuring the Ohio Valley Conference champion or other small colleges, although a few major colleges did play in the bowl during this early era as well.
From 1964 through 1967, it was one of the four regional finals in the College Division (which became Division II and Division III in 1973), along with the Pecan, Grantland Rice, and Camellia bowls.
In 1968, the Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City took over as a regional final, and the Tangerine Bowl became a major college bowl game, featuring teams from the University Division (which became Division I in 1973).
In 1986, it was one of the bowl games considered for the site of the "winner take all" national championship game between Penn State and Miami, before the Fiesta Bowl was eventually chosen.
The 1990 season game had national championship implications; Georgia Tech won the Florida Citrus Bowl, finished 11–0–1, and was voted the 1990 UPI national champion.
The 1997 season game, which featured nearby Florida beating Penn State, holds the game's attendance record at 72,940.
In 2004, the bowl bid to become the fifth BCS game, but was not chosen, primarily due to the stadium's aging condition. In July 2007, the Orange County Commissioners voted in favor of spending $1.1 billion to build the Amway Center for the Orlando Magic, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and to upgrade the Citrus Bowl stadium.
Following the 2014 game, Capital One ceased its sponsorship of the bowl, and moved its sponsorship to the Orange Bowl. Buffalo Wild Wings was announced as the new title sponsor of the bowl game in 2014. Buffalo Wild Wings had previously been the title sponsor of what is now the Cactus Bowl. In the offseason of 2017, Buffalo Wild Wings ceased sponsoring the bowl as the search for a new sponsor is ongoing.
The 2016 season game was played on December 31, the first time in 30 years that the game was not played on January 1 or 2nd.
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