MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Marshall Thundering Herd and Buffalo Bulls are set to meet in the seventh annual Camellia Bowl on Friday, Dec. 25, at 1:30 p.m., CT on ESPN. The game will be played at the historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery.
“The Camellia Bowl has a knack for down-to-the-wire finishes and we expect another great game from Buffalo and Marshall,” Johnny Williams, executive director of the Camellia Bowl said. “I’d like to express my gratitude to ESPN Events, Montgomery County and the City of Montgomery for making this bowl season possible. We will host two bowl games in three days at the Cramton Bowl, and excited to be a part of this historic occasion.”
Prior to the Camellia Bowl, the Montgomery Bowl will be played at the Cramton Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 6 p.m. CT. The Montgomery Bowl features the Memphis Tigers and Florida Atlantic Owls.
Marshall and Buffalo were Mid-American Conference rivals from 1999-2004. The teams have combined to win 10 MAC Eastern division titles. Marshall won six straight division titles in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Buffalo won four East division crowns in 2007, 2008, 2018 and 2020. The teams have met eight times previously with six of those games coming in MAC play. Marshall has won all eight meetings with Buffalo. The teams have not played since a 48-14 win by the Thundering Herd on Oct. 23, 2004. Marshall defeated Buffalo 10-8 in the first meeting between the two schools on Oct. 12, 1963.
Both teams excelled on offense and defense this season. Marshall led C-USA in scoring defense (12.6) and total defense (277.7). The Thundering Herd ranked second in the league in scoring offense (30.6) and third in total offense (407.2). Buffalo ranks second in the MAC in scoring offense (47.8) and total offense (509.0). In addition, the Bulls rank second in the MAC in scoring defense (23.8) and total defense (379.2).
Marshall (7-2) won the 2020 Conference USA Eastern Division Championship, its first since 2014. The Thundering Herd has won eight division titles in school, including three C-USA Eastern Division (2013, 2014 and 2020) titles. The offense is led by freshman quarterback Grant Wells, who leads C-USA in passing yards (219.7) and touchdown passes (18). He ranks second in the league in total offense with 239.4 yards per game.
Marshall is playing in its seventh bowl game in the last eight seasons. The Thundering Herd are 12-3 (.800) all-time in 15 bowl games. It’s the highest winning percentage nationally among teams with at least six bowl games. Marshall is making its eighth bowl appearance under head coach Doc Holiday, who has compiled an 85-53 (.616) record in 10 seasons with the Thundering Herd. Marshall saw its 7-game bowl winning streak come to an end with a 48-25 loss to UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. The first bowl game in school history took place in the 1997 Motor City Bowl. Marshall fell to Ole Miss 34-31. Marshall was also involved in the highest-scoring bowl game in NCAA history. The Thundering Herd, led by Byron Leftwich, rallied from a 30-point halftime deficit to defeat East Carolina, 64-61 in double overtime in the 2001 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Buffalo (5-1) captured the 2020 MAC Eastern Division championship, its fourth in school history. The Bulls also won MAC Eastern division titles in 2007, 2008, 2018 and 2020. The headline on offense is junior running back Jaret Patterson, who tied the NCAA record this season with eight rushing touchdowns in the 70-21 win over Kent State on Nov. 28. Patterson finished with 38 carries for 408 yards and eight touchdowns. The 408 yards are the most by an FBS player since Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine ran for an NCAA record 427 yards in the win over Kansas State in 2014. Patterson had 301 yards and four TDs the week prior against Bowling Green. For the season, Patterson has 141 carries for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns in six games.
Buffalo is playing in its fifth bowl game in school history. The Bulls are coming off the first bowl win in school history following last year’s 31-9 win over Charlotte in the Bahamas Bowl. Buffalo made its bowl debut in the 2008 International Bowl at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. UConn defeated Buffalo, 38-20. Buffalo is playing its third straight bowl game under Lance Leipold, who has compiled a 36-33 (.522) record in six seasons. Overall, he has compiled a 146-39 (.789). He compiled a 110-6 (.948) record in eight seasons at NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. He led the school to six Division III national championships in seven years and compiled a 34-1 (.971) NCAA Playoff record.
The city of Montgomery is synonymous with Christmas Day bowl games. The annual Blue-Gray Football Classic was played at the historic Cramton Bowl from 1939-2003. The inaugural game was played on Jan. 1, 1939. The Blue-Gray Football Classic was first played on Christmas Day in 1954. The event became an annual Christmas Day tradition beginning in 1979.
Playing on Christmas Day adds to the excitement of Camellia Bowl, which has had some thrilling games with the first six games decided by 25 total points. All six games were decided in the fourth quarter, with three games decided on the final play.
CAMELLIA BOWL ALL-TIME RESULTS:
Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28 (Dec. 20, 2014)
Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29 (Dec. 19, 2015)
Appalachian State 31, Toledo 28 (Dec. 17, 2016)
Middle Tennessee 35, Arkansas State 30 (Dec. 16, 2017)
Georgia Southern 23, Eastern Michigan 21 (Dec. 15, 2018)
Arkansas State 34, FIU 26 (Dec. 21, 2019)
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes four early-season college football games, 17 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 400 hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.