2018 Birmingham Bowl
The 2018 Birmingham Bowl, officially the 2018 Jared Birmingham Bowl, was the 13th contest in the annual postseason Birmingham Bowl series at Legion Field which began in 2006. The game was played for the first year with Jared jewelers signing a one-year contract as corporate title sponsor.
The contest for the Birmingham Bowl trophy kicked off at 11:00 AM on Saturday, December 22, 2018. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6) from the Atlantic Coast Conference defeated the American Athletic Conference's western division champion Memphis Tigers (8-5) by a score of 37-34.
Wake Forest was coached by Dave Clawson, in his fifth season with the Demon Deacons. Memphis was coached by Mike Norvell, capping his third season with the Tigers.
Wake Forest scored on the game's opening 75-yard drive when Sage Surratt caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Deacons quarterback Jamie Newman. Memphis running back Tony Pollard broke loose for a 41-yard touchdown run to answer on the next drive. The Tigers pulled ahead with a 98-yard drive capped by a short touchdown throw from Brady White to Patrick Taylor. Early in the second quarter, Tigers defender Chris Claybrooks snagged a "pick six" from Newman to stake Memphis to a 21-7 lead. Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba narrowed the lead with a 36-yard field goal, but Pollard responded with a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown to give Memphis a 28-10 advantage. The Demon Deacons responded with two rushing touchdowns by Newman as their defense stiffened.
Two more Sciba field goals early in the second half nudged Wake Forest to a 30-28 lead. Memphis' Patrick Taylor scored on a 9-yard run to answer, setting up Newman for what proved to be the game-winning last minute drive which featured passes of 10, 49 and 20 yards before he scored his third rushing touchdown on a 1-yard run. Memphis kicker Riley Patterson missed a 41-yard attempt to tie the game in the final seconds.
Newman, the games Most Valuable Player, finished with 22 of 40 passes completed for 328 yards, plus another 91 rushing yards and four combined touchdowns.
A team dinner hosted by the Monday Morning Quarterback Club on December 18 featured Todd Blackledge as keynote speaker and the presentation of the Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham award to Jeff Rutledge.
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 from the Martini Shakers and the Rock Candy Band, 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 by Man's Best Friend.
|Site: Legion Field|
|Names: Papajohns.com Bowl (2006-2010), BBVA Compass Bowl (2011-2014), Birmingham Bowl (2015-2017), Jared Birmingham Bowl (2018)|
|By year: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, Jan. 2015, Dec. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018|
- Patchen, Tyler (December 19, 2018) "Birmingham Bowl lands title sponsor for 2018 game." Birmingham Business Journal
- Dudley, Evan (December 22, 2018) "Birmingham Bowl 2018: Wild ending caps Wake Forest’s 37-34 victory over Memphis." The Birmingham News
- Dudley, Evan (December 22, 2018) "‘Another day at the office’: Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman wins Birmingham Bowl MVP." The Birmingham News
- Birmingham Bowl website