2017 Birmingham Bowl
The 2017 Birmingham Bowl was the 12th contest in the annual postseason Birmingham Bowl series at Legion Field which began in 2006. The game was played for the fourth year with no corporate title sponsor. A new Birmingham Bowl trophy depicting Vulcan made its debut.
The contest kicked off at 11:00 AM on an unseasonably warm Saturday, December 23, 2017. The returning champion 9-2 South Florida Bulls of the American Athletic Conference came from behind to defeat the 6-6 Texas Tech Red Raiders of the Big 12 Conference 38 to 34 in front of 28,623 fans.
South Florida was coached by Charlie Strong, capping his first season with the Bulls. Texas Tech was coached by Kliff Kingsbury, in his fifth season with the Red Raiders.
South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers was named the game's Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns while also leading all rushers with 106 yards on 14 carries and another score. Texas Tech senior QB Nic Shimonek threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two costly interceptions.
The game started off without much of the anticipated offensive firepower. The teams traded short field goals before Shimonek gave Texas Tech a 10-3 lead with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Keke Coutee. Flowers closed the gap with 21 seconds remaining in the half with a two-play drive finished by Tyre McCants' touchdown catch.
Dylan Cantrell opened the scoring in the second half with a catch in the corner of the end zone on a free play. Flowers answered with a 9-play, 91-yard drive capped by 17-yard pass to Darnell Salomon. The Red Raiders' Tre King punched it in from 4 yards out to give his team a 24-17 lead which it maintained for nearly 11 minutes before the Bulls broke it open in the fourth.
Flowers tied the game at 24 with his sole rushing touchdown finishing a 9-play, 43-yard drive. Texas Tech answered with a 33-yard Clayton Hatfield field goal. Flowers broke it open when he found Marquez Valdes-Scantling open for a 65-yard touchdown on the second play of the next drive. Shimonek out the Raiders back ahead with a 25-yard throw to T.J. Vasher with 1:31 to play, but Flowers closed the game 16 seconds before the whistle by hitting McCants racing into the end zone for his second score.
A team dinner hosted by the Monday Morning Quarterback Club on December 19 featured former University of Texas head coach Mack Brown as keynote speaker and the presentation of the Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham award to Cornelius Bennett.
A Friday afternoon Street Fest and Pep Rally was held from 1:00 to 6:00 PM in the Uptown entertainment district. The event featured live music, games and food and drink vendors, along with performances by both visiting marching bands. Fireworks capped the event. A "Fan Zone" outside Legion Field on the morning before the 11:00 AM kickoff also featured live music.
|Site: Legion Field|
|Names: Papajohns.com Bowl (2006-2010), BBVA Compass Bowl (2011-2014), Birmingham Bowl (2015-)|
|By year: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, Jan. 2015, Dec. 2015, 2016, 2017|
- Wray, Cheryl (December 29, 2017) "Birmingham Bowl 2017 Fan Guide: Tickets, schedule, activities for USF vs. Texas Tech." The Birmingham News
- "Birmingham Bowl 2017: South Florida vs. Texas Tech live stream, live score updates" (December 23, 2017) The Birmingham News
- Birmingham Bowl website