The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, formerly known as the Texas Bowl, is a post-season NCAA-sanctioned Division I FBS college football bowl game that was held for the first time in 2006 in Houston, Texas. The bowl replaced the now-defunct Houston Bowl, which was played annually from 2000 to 2005. The first bowl game in Houston was the Bluebonnet Bowl, played from 1959 through 1987. On December 31, 2011, Texas A&M defeated Northwestern by a score of 33-22.
Speculation had surfaced questioning the long-term survival of the former Houston Bowl. The three-year contract with EV1.net expired on December 31, 2005, leaving the bowl game without a title sponsor. A college football official told the Houston Chronicle that the bowl was in danger of ceasing operations, as a result of the game losing its title sponsor and because the Houston Bowl still owed roughly $600,000 to the Big 12 and Mountain West conferences following the 2005 game. However, the NCAA approved Lone Star Sports & Entertainment, a division of the NFL's Houston Texans, who also play in Reliant Stadium, to take over game management. Then on July 20, the NFL Network acquired both TV rights and naming rights to the bowl, which was played on December 28.
The Texas Bowl name and logo were officially unveiled on August 10, 2006, at a press conference along with the conference affiliations for the bowl spots. The Big 12, Big East and Conference USA will be affiliated with the game, as well as Texas Christian University of the Mountain West. The 2006 matchup featured teams from the Big 12 and Big East Conferences. On April 12, 2011 ESPN announced that Meineke Car Care had signed a three year title sponsorship deal beginning in 2011 to change the name of the bowl to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
On December 3, 2006, Rutgers accepted an invitation to play Kansas State on December 28 at Reliant Stadium. "We’re ecstatic about having Rutgers," Texas Bowl director David Brady said. "This is a top-15 team that was three yards away from a BCS game. We couldn’t be happier to have them here."
On May 17, 2007, Conference USA announced that it would have a team in the 2007 Texas Bowl. The Texas Bowl has a rotating commitment with the Big East Conference and Conference USA for 2006 - 09 while the Big 12 Conference will have a team in all four of those games. In 2007, TCU took the place of the Big 12 team when Kansas and Oklahoma were put into the BCS, and, a "home team," represented C-USA. The conferences would receive $612,500 each as per the rules of the agreements as usually, the Big East (or Big 12) would have received $750,000 for playing and C-USA would have received a $500,000 stipend for their team playing.
2010 will mark the eleventh straight year that a bowl game has been played in Houston, and the 40th year overall with such a game there (the Bluebonnet Bowl lasted 29 years). It was also announced on December 30, 2009, that ESPN Plus would take over as part owner and operator of the game, while Lone Star Sports and Entertainment will maintain a stake in the bowl, and would be carried on ESPN.
According to Sports Illustrated, in 2008 the bowl required Western Michigan University to purchase 11,000 tickets at full price in order to accept the invitation to play in the bowl. The university was only able to sell 548 tickets at that price, forcing it to accept a $462,535 loss, before travel expenses, to pay for the privilege of playing in the bowl.
See main article: 2007 Texas Bowl.
See main article: 2006 Texas Bowl.
|Date||Winning team||Losing team||Attendance||TV||notes|
|December 28, 2006||Rutgers||37||Kansas State||10||52,210||NFL Network||notes|
|December 28, 2007||TCU||20||13||62,097||notes|
|December 30, 2008||Rice||38||Western Michigan||14||58,880||notes|
|December 31, 2009||Navy||35||Missouri||13||69,441||ESPN||notes|
|December 29, 2010||Illinois||38||Baylor||14||68,211||ESPN||notes|
|December 31, 2011||Texas A&M||33||Northwestern||22||68,395||ESPN||notes|
|2011||Ryan Tannehill||Texas A&M||QB|