Festivities for 86th Sun Bowl set to kick off on Thursday

Sun Bowl

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Festivities for the 86th Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl will get underway on Thursday afternoon, when both Arizona State and Florida State arrive in El Paso.

The Seminoles (6-6) get into town first, at El Paso International Airport at 1 p.m. The Sun Devils (7-5) will join their opponent in the Sun City at 3 p.m., arriving by bus as four-point favorites.

For Arizona State, it’s their third trip to the Sun Bowl since 2014, while Florida State hasn’t been to El Paso since 1966. Herm Edwards will coach the Sun Devils, while interim coach Odell Haggins will lead the Seminoles into the Sun City. Haggins took over for Willie Taggart, who was fired in the middle of the season. New Florida State coach Mike Norvell will be in attendance, but won’t help coach the team.

Multiple star players will once again sit out the Sun Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. Arizona State’s leading rusher Eno Benjamin, as well as leading receiver Brandon Aiyuk won’t play; Florida State leading rusher Cam Akers will also be absent.

It’s a fact of life in college football these days and something the Sun Bowl knows all-too-well, but bowl executives aren’t worried that it will affect the possibilities of the Seminoles and Sun Devils playing a competitive game.

“I think we were the ones that started the trend with Christian McCaffrey a couple years ago, but look at what happened: Bryce Love broke out at the Sun Bowl game and became one of the premier rushers in the country until he got hurt,” said Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas. “So there’s always someone, it’s not about one player, it’s about the entire team. It affects you a little bit to not have the marquee names, but there’s still some very good football players. We’re talking two Power-5 conferences and they have some tremendous athletes. It’s a team sport and they have to look after themselves, so that’s what they’re doing.”

Arizona State and Florida State will arrive in El Paso on Thursday and begin practices on Friday, leading up to the game next Tuesday.

The 86th Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl kicks off at noon on New Year’s Eve.

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