One of the biggest stories early on in the college football off-season has been the announcement that this year’s FIU-Miami game will be played at Marlins Park.
Since Marlins Park was built on the site of the Orange Bowl, this game marks a return to sacred grounds for Miami, but also FIU for a lesser degree.
The Panthers played their home games at the Orange Bowl in 2007, while Riccardo Silva Stadium was being constructed, going 1-6 and winning the final game ever at the Orange Bowl, a 38-19 victory over North Texas in the season finale.
FIU fared better in their finale than Miami, who laid a 48-0 egg to Virginia in their final game at the Orange Bowl.
This is obviously not the first game to be played at the “Field of Fish Tanks” as the Miami Beach Bowl was held at the ballpark from 2014-2016 before packing their bags and moving to Frisco, Texas.
In honor of this sort of important occasion, here are those three games ranked from best to worst:
1.) 2014 Miami Beach Bowl- BYU vs Memphis
The fact most of us remember the post-game brawl more than the game is sad as the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl featured over 900 yards, 103 points in a double-overtime shootout.
Both quarterbacks took center stage with Christian Stewart of BYU throwing for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Paxton Lynch countered with 343 total yards and SEVEN touchdowns, 4 through the air and 3 on the ground.
BYU overcame a 10-point 4th quarter deficit to take a 45-38 lead with just over seven minutes to go on a 19-yard pick-six by Zac Stout, but Memphis tied the game with less than a minute to go on a 5-yard pass from Lynch to Keiwone Malone.
The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, and following Lynch’s seventh touchdown, an 11-yard pass to Roderick Proctor, Memphis sealed the win with an interception by Deshaughn Terry.
Memphis would receive its first postseason AP poll ranking ever, landing at #25 and only second ranking of any kind ever, with the first time coming in 2004 when they were also at #25 for a week.
2.) 2015 Miami Beach Bowl: USF vs Western Kentucky
The second ever Miami Beach Bowl provided another offensive explosion with over 1200 combined yards and 80 points, as Western Kentucky won 45-35 to cap a 12 win season.
100 yard rushing performances by Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers were not enough to defeat the Hilltoppers as Brandon Doughty ended an illustrious career with a 461-yard, 3 touchdown performance.
After trailing 14-10 in the first half, Western Kentucky went on a 28-7 run in the third quarter to run away with the game and secure its only postseason AP ranking ever, landing at #24.
3.) 2016 Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan vs Tulsa
This one had a nostalgic feel as this was the 21st time a team from would appear in a Miami bowl game, but other than that this game did not have much going for it.
After a close first quarter, where the Chippewas kept the game within reach at 10-3, Tulsa opened the floodgates, taking a 27-3 halftime lead on the way with a 55-10 victory to reach ten wins.
The Golden Hurricane offense showed incredible balance as they had all year, with Dane Evans was near perfect and threw for 304 yards and five touchdowns without an interception and D’Angelo Brewer and James Flanders both went over 100 yards.
With a 12-catch, 131 yard performance, Josh Atkinson helped Tulsa become the first team ever to have a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000 yard rushers, and two 1,000 yard receivers in a season.
Football at Marlins Park came in with a bang, but progressively got worse until football at the ballpark went out with a whimper in the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl. Hopefully this year, FIU and Miami can put together one of the greatest games in the ballpark’s young football history.