Virginia Tech, Maryland set for Pinstripe Bowl

December 8th, 2021

Virginia Tech University and University of Maryland will clash on the gridiron when kickoff arrives for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29, and as the celebrated contest returns following its one-year absence due to the pandemic, Yankee Stadium and New York City both figure to be a huge part of the action. 

As both schools enjoy their first invitation to play at either the current or original Yankee Stadium, the pulsing spirit of New York’s resurgent streets and avenues will be heavily incorporated into the festivities, expected to be played in front of a full-capacity crowd in the Bronx. 

“It’s important to the psyche of the city. It’s important to the psyche of people who work here at the Yankees,” said Yankees president Randy Levine. “This is a big event, and I think it’s important for the teams who come here to understand that New York is open. They’re going to be experiencing New York in the holiday season; there’s no better place in the world.”

Established in 2010, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has featured some of the most memorable moments in recent college football history. Kickoff is set for 2:15 p.m. ET and will be nationally televised by ESPN and broadcast by ESPN Radio.

Mark Holtzman, the executive director of the Pinstripe Bowl, said that a bevy of New York-centric activities for players, family members and fans would continue to set the event apart from other bowl games. Visits to One World Observatory, the Sept. 11 Memorial, Radio City Musical Hall, Lincoln Center and Tavern On the Green are scheduled. 

“We don’t have palm trees, but we give these student-athletes memories that they can tell their grandchildren about someday, and that to us is very important,” Holtzman said. “They leave here with a great feeling of what New York is all about.”

Led by interim head coach J.C. Price, Virginia Tech will make its 34th all-time bowl appearance (13-20). The school will become the sixth different Atlantic Coast Conference team to play in the Pinstripe Bowl in the seven years of the bowl’s partnership with the ACC (Boston College is the only ACC team to have appeared twice).

Virginia Tech has been bowl eligible for 29 consecutive seasons (since 1993), the longest streak in the nation. The run-heavy Hokies offense tallied 2,286 rushing yards and averaged 190.5 rushing yards per game, led by redshirt junior running back Raheem Blackshear and junior quarterback Braxton Burmeister, while Virginia Tech’s stout defense allowed just 22.9 points per game this season.

“This is very big for Virginia Tech,” said Price. “The way the Yankees organization stepped up and embraced the Virginia Tech community after the tragic events of ’07, we have a special place in our hearts for the Yankee organization. It’s going to be really exciting to be up there this time of year.”

Following the tragic events of April 16, 2007, the Yankees made a $1 million contribution to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. In March 2008, the Yankees visited the memorial to the April 16 victims and played an exhibition game against the university's baseball squad in Blacksburg, Va.

“It was very emotional,” Levine recalled. “It was beautiful to see the whole Virginia Tech community come together the way they did. That’s what George Steinbrenner was about. He was about helping people. The George Steinbrenner who was on the tabloids, that was done for effect, but the real George Steinbrenner always wanted to help people.”

Maryland will play in its first bowl game under head coach Michael Locksley. It will be the 28th bowl appearance in program history. Maryland will become the seventh different Big Ten team (in seven games of the bowl’s partnership with the conference) to play in the Pinstripe Bowl. Dating back to 2002, the Terrapins are 5-4 in bowl games.

The pass-heavy Terrapin offense relied on redshirt sophomore quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who set program single-season records in both completions (308, first in the Big Ten) and passing yards (3,595, second in the Big Ten). Sophomore wide receiver Rakim Jarrett led the team with 56 receptions and 783 receiving yards.

Senior defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors (selected by the coaches), leading Maryland’s defense with 6.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Senior defensive back Jakorian Bennett collected 16 pass breakups (tied for the most among Power Five conference players) and was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection.

“This is a great opportunity for our football program,” said Damon Evans, Maryland’s Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics. “It’s a building process. We talk about that one step at a time, so being able to come to New York City during Christmas time and be part of an iconic venue in Yankee Stadium, this is extremely exciting for Maryland football.”

Levine said that the Pinstripe Bowl was a specific vision of the late George M. Steinbrenner III, who played and coached football before his stewardship of the Yankees. In his honor, the winning team on Dec. 29 will hoist the George M. Steinbrenner Trophy.

“'The Boss' loved college football -- it was his favorite,” Levine said. “When we built this place, he said, ‘We have to make provisions for college football.’ So every time we play this game, we’re honoring the Steinbrenner family and his great memory.”

Tickets for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl are currently on sale at, the official website of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and For up-to-the-moment information regarding the game, fans are encouraged to follow the Bowl game’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts: @PinstripeBowl.