AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State football team will be returning to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis after a visit more than four decades ago under legendary coach Johnny Majors. The Cyclones will play in the 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. CT against Conference USA Champion Tulsa. The game will be televised by ESPN.
“Our football team is extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to play in one of college football’s most historic bowl games,” Coach Paul Rhoads said. “We are honored to represent the Big 12 and participate in a bowl with the outstanding reputation of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. I am excited that our fans can drive to the site, support our team and enjoy the festivities. Memphis will be colored Cardinal and Gold for the New Year!”
Iowa State played in the 1972 AutoZone Liberty Bowl against Georgia Tech and the game drew the second-largest attendance in the bowl’s history at that time. George Amundsen hit Ike Harris on a five-yard TD pass to cut a Tech lead to 31-30 but the two-point PAT failed.
“We are thrilled to accept a bid to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,” Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “Because of the game’s storied history, its New Year’s Eve playing date, national TV exposure, a chance to play a league champion, and the fact Memphis will be an affordable and drivable trip for many Cyclone fans, it’s a great destination for the Cyclones. More than 40,000 Iowa State alums live within a day’s drive of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and we fully expect ISU alums and students to take advantage of the close proximity and have a huge presence on Beale Street before and after the game.”
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl, which is the seventh-oldest bowl game, has been a highly competitive contest recently as every game since 2004 has been decided in the final minutes. The bowl is working on plans to honor Majors and former Cyclone assistant coach Jackie Sherrill during bowl week. Part of the bowl’s mission is to showcase the exemplary work of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The 2012 Cyclones won six games against a schedule ranked among the five toughest in the nation. Iowa State won three road games for the first time since 2001, including a 14-point victory at TCU to break the nation’s longest winning streak. Iowa State was ranked 25th in the initial BCS standings of the season, the school’s first-ever appearance in those ratings. Cyclones fans also smashed all school attendance records last fall.