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Virginia gets SMU in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 29

wasabi fenway bowlWhen you’re a .500 team, your bowl destination tends to be a cold place in the middle of the week, as early in the day as possible. Virginia gets Boston, in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl, in a game with SMU, at 11 in the morning on a Wednesday.

Tickets for the game, as if you’re going to go, even if you live in Boston, are on sale at

It’s the first D1 bowl game to ever be played in New England, for good reason. Bowl games used to be exclusive to sunny, warm places, like Florida, or California.

Now everybody gets a bowl game. An outfit named Wasabi Technologies is the sponsor for this one, which will be played in Fenway Park, a cool place to take in a baseball game any other time of year, not a good place at all to be outside for four hours in late December.

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 11 a.m., just to get all that on the record.

“We are pleased to be the Atlantic Coast Conference’s representative for the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl,” AD Carla Williams said, because she has to say something nice. “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.”

SMU went 8-4 in the 2021 regular season. Coach Sonny Dykes left a couple weeks ago to take the job at TCU.

That 8-4 record does come with a bit of an asterisk. The Mustangs started 7-0, then lost four of their last five.

QB Tanner Mordecai has thrown for 3,628 yards and 39 TDs this season, so expect to see him slice and dice a UVA defense that ranked in the bottom 10 nationally this season.

“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,” departing UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “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,” Mendenhall said.

Last Dec. 29, the 11 a.m. temperature in Boston was 37 degrees, dropping to 35 by 2 p.m.

On Dec. 29, 2019, the 11 a.m. temperature was 38 degrees, peaking at 42 at 2 p.m.

You’d be hoping for a repeat of the weather from Dec. 29, 2018 – the temperature was a balmy 51 at noon.

What you’d fear: Dec. 29, 2017: it was 6 degrees at 11 a.m., climbing to 12 by 2 p.m.

Who am I kidding – you’re watching this one at home, if at all.

The game is on, of course, ESPN.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press