When a city decides to invest in a new stadium for its NFL team, it often wants to make sure that everything that can be done to maximize the stadiums value is done. For the City of Nashville, that meant using the new stadium being built for the Tennessee Titans for more than just the eight home games the team would play every year.
To that end, the Nashville Sports Council began talking with the SEC about a new bowl game to be called the Music City Bowl. Once the right partnerships were in place, organizers were able to move forward with the plan. On December 29, 1998, the inaugural Music City Bowl was played at Vanderbilt Stadium (a 38-7 win for Virginia Tech over Alabama).
The following year, with the Titans stadium complete, the game moved to its home, Adelphi Coliseum (now Nissan Stadium).
The SEC has had an affiliation with the game since its inception. A deal wasn’t struck with the Big East until 1999. A team from the Big East played in the game through the 2001 season. The following year it was replaced with the Big Ten conference. Four years later the ACC took the Big Ten’s place. Since 2014, the game has had a tie in with the SEC and either an ACC or Big Ten team.
In the short history of the game, organizers have done a good job of scheduling different teams. As of the 2016 season, in the game’s 19-seasons it has had 27 teams play in a game. Of those teams, only eight teams have played in the game more than once. Kentucky has been in it the most with four appearances (2-2) followed by Minnesota with three (2-1). Vanderbilt (2-0), Boston College (1-1), Clemson (1-1), Ole Miss (1-1), Tennessee (1-1), and Alabama (0-2) have each appeared twice.
Last year’s game was played on December 30, 2016, between Tennessee and Nebraska. Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs led the way for Tennessee with 409 total yards (291 yards passing and 118 yards rushing) and four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing).