|1979 Tangerine Bowl|
|Date||December 22, 1979|
|MVP||David Woodley, LSU (overall)|
Jerry Murphree, LSU (offensive)
Benjy Thibodeaux, LSU (defensive)
|Payout||US$150,000 per school|
The 1979 Tangerine Bowl was an American college football bowl game that was played on December 22, 1979 at Orlando Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The game matched the LSU Tigers against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. It was the final contest of the 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season for both teams. The game ended in a 34–10 victory for the Tigers.
The game matched the LSU Tigers of the Southeastern Conference against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers had a conference record of 4–2 and the Demon Decons had a conference record of 3–2. The game was the first bowl game featuring the Tigers and the Demon Deacons, and was their third overall meeting. LSU led the series 2–0 heading into the game.
The teams' first meeting was in 1960, when the Tigers defeated the Demon Deacons 16–0. The teams also played in 1978, with LSU prevailing 13-11 at Baton Rouge.
LSU entered the matchup looking to end a four-game bowl skid, dating to a 33-15 decision over Iowa State in the 1971 Sun Bowl.
The game was the last for LSU coach Charles McClendon, who was stepping down after 18 seasons at the helm of the Bayou Bengals. Bo Rein was named McClendon's successor 22 days prior to the bowl.
Ironically, Rein coached North Carolina State to victory over Wake Forest en route to the 1979 ACC championship. The Wolfpack, however, did not play in a bowl game, while three other ACC teams which finished below NC State (Wake Forest, Clemson and North Carolina), did.
McClendon had been at LSU since 1955. He was defensive coordinator under Paul Dietzel from 1955–61, helping the Tigers win the national championship in 1958. Dietzel left to coach Army following the 1961 season.
In 1978, Dietzel returned to LSU as its athletic director. He was fired in February 1982 after the LSU Board of Supervisors discovered gross financial mismanagement within the school's athletic department under Dietzel's watch.
LSU and Wake Forest have not played each other in football since this game.
The victory gave McClendon a final record of 137-59-7. He still holds LSU records for longest tenure and most victories. He was named Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association in 1980 after serving as its president in 1979. Following his death in 2001, LSU's football practice fields were named in McClendon's honor.
No LSU coach after McClendon lasted longer than five seasons until Les Miles, who coached 11 full seasons (2005–15). Miles was fired after four games of the 2016 season.
Bo Rein perished in a plane crash on January 10, 1980. Former LSU All-American Jerry Stovall, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1962, McClendon's first year as head coach, was named Rein's successor.
Paul Dietzel was fired as LSU's athletic director in early 1982. The LSU Board of Supervisors cited mismanagement of athletic department finances as the reason for Dietzel's dismissal.
LSU has returned to Orlando three times to play in the Tangerine Bowl's successor, the Citrus Bowl. The Tigers lost 30-25 to Iowa in 2005 and 19-17 to Penn State in 2010 and 21-17 to Notre Dame in 2018, while defeating Louisville 29-9 in December 2016.
Wake Forest did not return to a bowl game until the 1992 Independence Bowl. The Demon Deacons have played in only one bowl in Florida since this game, the 2007 Orange Bowl, which they lost 24-13 to Louisville.