For the fifth straight season, head coach Bronco Mendenhall has led the Virginia Cavaliers to bowl eligibility, the longest such stretch since George Welsh led the Hoos to 13 straight years of winning seasons. Virginia will be heading up to Boston to participate in the inaugural Fenway Bowl on December 29, 2021 against the SMU Mustangs.
This is the first bowl game the Hoos will be participating in since the 2019 Orange Bowl, a 36-28 loss to Florida. Though Virginia finished 5-5 last season, they declined to participate in the postseason, opting instead in favor to send players, coaches and staff home in the middle of the pandemic.
In its inaugural year, the Fenway Bowl is, as the name suggests, played at Fenway Park in Boston. Because sports is petty, it will take place on December 29, the same day the Pinstripe Bowl is being played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Also because sports is super petty, Virginia Tech will be playing in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Fenway Bowl was supposed to debut last year, but was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.
SMU finished the regular season 8-4. Their losses come at the hands of CFP-bounds Cincinnati and 11-2 (8-0 Houston), as well as bowl eligible-Tulsa and Memphis. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
Early DraftKings odds puts the Mustangs as a 1.5 point favorite.
Of course, as has been intimately covered all week long, this will be the last game for Bronco. The Mustangs have also had coaching changes after its head coach Sonny Dykes left for TCU. SMU has tapped Miami OC Rhett Lashlee as its next head coach.
“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,” Mendenhall said in a released statement. “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.”
Nobody asked, but just so we can get it out of the way now, The title sponsor of the Fenway Bowl is Wasabi, but it’s not the literal product of wasabi that will make your mouth explode. It’s a far more disappointing — but more practical — cloud storage company, Wasabi Technologies.
Virginia fans can purchase their tickets through the Virginia Athletics ticket office and tickets are allocated first based on priority point levels. Because attendance is a big factor in bowl selections, the school encourages fans to purchase tickets through www.UVATix.com.