First Responder Bowl

First Responder Bowl
Servpro First Responder Bowl
Stadium Cotton Bowl
Location Fair Park
Dallas, Texas
Operated 2011–present
Conference tie-ins Big Ten vs. Big 12 (2013)
Big Ten vs. C-USA (2014)
Pac 12 vs. C-USA (2015)
Payout US$1.2 million
TicketCity (2011–2012)
PlainsCapital Bank (2013)
Zaxby's (2014–2017)
Servpro (2018–present)
Former names
Dallas Football Classic (2011, working title)
TicketCity Bowl (2011–2012)
Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank (2013–Jan 2014)
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec 2014–2017)
2016 matchup
Army vs. North Texas (Army 38–31)
2017 matchup
Utah vs. West Virginia (Utah 30–14)

The First Responder Bowl is an NCAA post-season college football bowl game. The inaugural game was played on New Year's Day (January 1), 2011, at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.[1] This game physically replaced the Cotton Bowl Classic, which moved from its longtime eponymous home to AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington in 2010. The conferences are scheduled to receive a $1.2 million payout for the teams' participation.

Starting in 2018, the game is sponsored by Servpro and officially known as the Servpro First Responder Bowl.[2][3] Previously, the bowl was known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl with Zaxby's as its title sponsor from 2014–2017.[4] The previous title sponsor in 2013 was PlainsCapital Bank. And when TicketCity was the sponsor in 2011 and 2012, the bowl game was officially known simply as the TicketCity Bowl.


The game was tentatively called the Dallas Football Classic until TicketCity, an online reseller of sports and entertainment tickets, agreed to be the title game's first title sponsor[5] and renamed the bowl as the TicketCity Bowl.

The Northwestern Wildcats of the Big Ten Conference faced the Texas Tech Red Raiders of the Big 12 Conference in the inaugural game.


The Cotton Bowl stadium opened in 1932. Originally known as the Fair Park Bowl, it is located in Fair Park, site of the State Fair of Texas. Due to the immense crowds that SMU running back Doak Walker drew to the stadium during his college career in the late 1940s, the stadium became known as "The House That Doak Built." The Cotton Bowl Classic called the stadium home from the bowl's inception in 1937 until the 2009 game, after which it moved to what is now AT&T Stadium. The stadium also served as the original home of Dallas' first, ill-fated National Football League franchise in 1952. Later, and far more successfully, the NFL's Dallas Cowboys called the Cotton Bowl home for 11 years, from the team's formation in 1960 until 1971, when the Cowboys moved to Texas Stadium. The American Football League's Dallas Texans likewise began play at the Cotton Bowl in 1960, but were unable to compete successfully financially with Cowboys and after only three money-losing seasons moved to Kansas City, where they became quite successful on and off the field as the Kansas City Chiefs.


The Heart of Dallas Bowl has tie-ins with the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and Conference USA (C-USA).

For the first four games, the Big Ten was contracted to send a team each season, with alternating appearances from the Big 12 (even seasons) and C-USA (odd seasons). For the 2013 season, the Big Ten did not have enough bowl-eligible teams, so the selection committee chose an at-large team, UNLV from the Mountain West Conference, to take their place.[6]

For the next six games, C-USA is contracted to send a team each season, with alternating appearances from the Big Ten (even seasons) and Big 12 (odd seasons).[7] For the 2015 season, the Big 12 did not have enough bowl-eligible teams, so the selection committee selected the Washington Huskies from the Pac-12 Conference to take its place.[8] For the 2016 season, the Big Ten sent four teams to CFP bowls, so the selection committee chose an at-large team, independent Army, to take its place.[9]

After having been played on January 1 or January 2 for its first four editions, the game moved to a late December date beginning with the 2014 season.

Season Contracted tie-ins Date played Actual participants
2010 Big Ten Big 12 January 1, 2011 Big Ten Big 12
2011 C-USA January 2, 2012 Big Ten C-USA
2012 Big 12 January 1, 2013 Big Ten Big 12
2013 C-USA January 1, 2014 Mountain West C-USA
2014 C-USA Big Ten December 26, 2014 C-USA Big Ten
2015 Big 12 December 26, 2015 C-USA Pac-12
2016 Big Ten December 27, 2016 C-USA Independent
2017 Big 12 December 26, 2017 Pac-12 Big 12
2018 Big Ten
2019 Big 12

Bold conference denotes winner of games played.

Game results

Date played Winning team Losing team Attendance Notes
January 1, 2011Texas Tech45 Northwestern38 40,121 notes
January 2, 2012Houston30 Penn State14 46,817 notes
January 1, 2013 Oklahoma State58 Purdue14 48,313 notes
January 1, 2014 North Texas36 UNLV14 38,380 notes
December 26, 2014 Louisiana Tech35 Illinois18 31,297 notes
December 26, 2015 Washington44 Southern Miss31 20,229 notes
December 27, 2016 Army38 North Texas31 39,117 notes
December 26, 2017 Utah30 West Virginia14 20,507 notes


Year MVP Team Position
2011Taylor PottsTexas TechQB
2012Case KeenumHoustonQB
2013Clint ChelfOklahoma StateQB
2014 (Jan.)Derek ThompsonNorth TexasQB
2014 (Dec.)Houston BatesLouisiana TechLB
2015Myles GaskinWashingtonRB
2016Ahmad BradshawArmyQB
2017Julian BlackmonUtahCB

Most appearances

Rank Team Appearances Record
1North Texas21–1
T2Louisiana Tech11–0
T2Oklahoma State11–0
T2Texas Tech11–0
T2Southern Miss10–1
T2Penn State10–1
T2West Virginia10–1

Appearances by conference

Through the December 2017 playing, there have been 8 games (16 total appearances).

Rank Conference Appearances Wins Losses Pct.
2Big Ten4040.000
3Big 123210.667
T5Independents[n 1]1101.000
T5Mountain West1010.000
  1. Army (2016)

Game records

Team Performance vs. Opponent Year
Most Points Scored58, Oklahoma State vs. Purdue (58-14)2013
Fewest Points Allowed14, North Texas vs. UNLV (36-14; tied with 2 others)2014 (Jan.)
First Downs34, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern2011
Rushing Yards480, Army vs. North Texas2016
Passing Yards532, Houston vs. Penn State2012
Total Yards600, Houston vs. Penn State (532 pass, 68 rush)2012
Individual Performance, Team vs. Opponent Year
Total Offense542, Case Keenum, Houston vs. Penn State (532 pass, 10 rush)2012
Rushing Yards181, Myles Gaskin, Washington vs. Southern Miss. (26 att., 4 TD)2015
Rushing TDs4, Myles Gaskin, Washington vs. Southern Miss.2015
Passing Yards532, Case Keenum, Houston vs. Penn State (45-69, 3 TD)2012
Passing TDs4, Taylor Potts, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern2011
Receptions12, Justin Johnson, Houston vs. Penn State (148 yds, 1 TD)2012
Receiving Yards228, Patrick Edwards, Houston vs. Penn State (10 rec., 2 TD)2012
Receiving TDs2, Patrick Edwards, Houston vs. Penn State (tied with 1 other)2012
Field Goals3, Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State vs. Purdue (tied with 1 other)2013
Tackles15, Quentin Davie, Northwestern vs. Texas Tech2011
Sacks4.5, Houston Bates, Louisiana Tech vs. Illinois (32 yards)2014 (Dec.)
Interceptions2, Elijah Riley, Army vs. North Texas (3 yds) (tied with 1 other)2016
Long Plays Performance, Team vs. Opponent Year
Touchdown Run86, Eric Stephens, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern (tied with 1 other)2011
Touchdown Pass80, Cody Sokol to Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech vs. Illinois2014 (Dec.)
Kickoff Return49, Marcus Sullivan, UNLV vs. North Texas2014 (Jan.)
Punt Return64, Josh Steward, Oklahoma State vs. Purdue2013
Interception Return69, Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech vs. Illinois (TD)2014 (Dec.)
Fumble Return37, Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State vs. Purdue (TD)2013
Punt65, Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State vs. Purdue2013
Field Goal50, Matt Hogan, Houston vs. Penn State2012

Note: Only the most recent year shown.


ESPNU had coverage of the first four games. Since December 2014, the game has aired on ESPN. On radio, RedVoice LLC carries the game nationwide along Premiere Radio Networks stations under the name "The Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl Radio Network". KLIF (AM) serves as the flagship station for the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

See also


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