Boston, MA – December 5, 2021 – The SMU Mustangs and University of Virginia (UVA) Cavaliers will play each other in the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl at Fenway Park on Wednesday, December 29 at 11 a.m. ET, announced by ESPN this afternoon. The inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl, jointly produced by Fenway Sports Management and ESPN Events, will be nationally televised on ESPN. It will mark the first college football bowl game to be played at the historic home of the Boston Red Sox, and the first Division 1 bowl game to be held in New England.
“The Wasabi Fenway Bowl will be a new landmark sporting tradition New England can be proud of, and we could not be more excited to have these two outstanding teams participating in the inaugural game at historic Fenway Park on December 29,” said Michael Welts, CMO of Wasabi Technologies. “Beyond the field, we are also honored to further the game’s philanthropic mission through the Honor Roll program, which recognizes the incredible efforts of educators to help students reach their full potential in and out of the classroom, while supporting access to quality education in our region. Not only will the Wasabi Fenway Bowl ignite a new passion for college sports in New England, it’s a tremendous opportunity to give back to our local community.”
SMU will be playing its 19th bowl game in program history, after ending the season with an 8-4 record overall, going 4-4 in AAC play. The Mustangs were ranked in the top 25 for five weeks in 2021, reaching as high as No. 16, and feature one of the nation’s top offenses, led by record-setting quarterback Tanner Mordecai.
“We are excited to be invited to the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl,” said SMU Director of Athletics Rick Hart. “Our student-athletes worked hard this season to reach our goal of making the post-season and this will provide a truly unique and first-of-its kind student-athlete experience in playing at Fenway Park against an ACC team.”
Virginia enters the 2021 Bowl Season with a record of 6-6 (4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference). The 2021 Wasabi Fenway Bowl will be UVA’s 22nd bowl game appearance in program history. The matchup marks the first-ever meeting between SMU and Virginia. The Cavaliers will play their first game in the city of Boston since 2010 when they visited Boston College.
“We are pleased to be the Atlantic Coast Conference’s representative for the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl,” said Virginia athletics director Carla Williams. “Playing at such a historic venue will be a special opportunity for our football program and a great experience for our fans. I am grateful for everything that Bronco Mendenhall has done to elevate our football program over the past six years and excited to see him be able to coach this team one more time. It will be a very special moment for everyone associated with Virginia football.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to coach my team one more time and it will be a remarkable experience to play a bowl game at Fenway Park,” said Virginia head football coach Bronco Mendenhall. “There are a handful of sporting arenas in the country that are as unique, historic and beloved as Fenway Park. So, the idea of coaching my last game at Virginia at a place like Fenway Park, I really like that.
“At the beginning of the year, we set winning a bowl championship as one of our goals. We are going to plan a great experience for our team, enjoy our time in one of the most historic cities in our country and prepare really hard for the final time we will compete together.”
While in Boston, teams will participate in special events and community outreach, including trolley tours of the city, a live performance by the Improv Asylum, and time spent connecting with students in the community.
“We are thrilled to welcome SMU and Virginia’s student-athletes, coaches, staff, families, and fans to the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl,” said Fenway Sports Management President Mark Lev. “Since announcing the Fenway Bowl in 2019, our team has worked closely with the City of Boston, Wasabi and our Executive Committee to deliver this new sports tradition to fans across the country and build on over a century of college football at Fenway.”
Tickets and further details on the Wasabi Fenway Bowl can be found at the game’s website: www.fenwaybowl.com, on Facebook or on Twitter and Instagram @FenwayBowl. Fans are also encouraged to attend the Wasabi Fenway Bowl Pre-Game Fan Fest prior to the game from 8:00-10:45 a.m. in the Brookline Avenue Lot. The event is free and open to the public. More information about the Fan Fest can be found on the game’s website.