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1996 St. Jude Liberty Bowl
38th Liberty Bowl
1234 Total
Houston 7703 17
Syracuse 79014 30
DateDecember 27, 1996
StadiumLiberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
LocationMemphis, Tennessee
MVPMalcolm Thomas, Syracuse RB
United States TV coverage
Liberty Bowl
 < 1995  1997

The 1996 Liberty Bowl was a college football bowl game played on December 27, 1996, in Memphis, Tennessee. The 38th edition of the Liberty Bowl, it matched the Houston Cougars and the Syracuse Orangemen.


Syracuse, who had finished as co-champion of the Big East Conference (alongside Virginia Tech and Miami, who went to the Orange and Carquest Bowls, respectively), was invited to play in the Liberty Bowl, their first Liberty Bowl since 1961. This was their fifth bowl game in the decade, and 8th in the past 10 seasons.[1] As for Houston, they had finished as co-champion of Conference USA (along with Southern Miss) in the inaugural year of the conference. This was their first bowl game since 1988.

Game summary

The game found two future first rounders and Super Bowl participants: Syracuse's Donovan McNabb and Houston's Antowain Smith. Although only completing four of ten pass attempts, McNabb rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Smith rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, as well as receiving for 44 yards and a touchdown. Orangemen running back Malcolm Thomas ran for 201 yards and a touchdown earning MVP honors.[2][3]

Scoring summary


Statistics Houston Syracuse
First downs 13 25
Rushing yards 124 396
Passing yards 217 76
Passing (C–A–I) 14–28–1 4–10–0
Total offense 341 472
Return yards 148 80
Punts–average 3–35.0 4–42.5
Fumbles–lost 0–0 0–0
Third-down conversions 3–11 9–15
Penalties–yards 5–30 5–41
Time of possession 21:59 38:01


  1. ^ "Syracuse Takes Liberty Bowl". The New York Times. 4 December 1996.
  2. ^ "History: Bowl Recaps". 2010 Houston Cougars Football Media Almanac (PDF). Houston, Texas: University of Houston Department of Athletics. 2010. p. 92. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  3. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-22. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)