Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland today accepted invitations to play in the 2021 New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 29, with kickoff scheduled for 2:15 p.m. (ET). For both teams, it will mark their first time playing at either the current or original Yankee Stadium.
A virtual (Zoom) press conference with the teams and New Era Pinstripe Bowl officials will be held Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 12:00 p.m. ET, and air live on www.pinstripebowl.com, the YES Network and YES Network App.
Virginia Tech, led by Interim Head Coach J.C. Price, will make their 34th all-time bowl appearance (13-20) and first in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. They will become the sixth different ACC team to play in the contest in the seven years of the bowl’s partnership with the ACC (Boston College is the only ACC team to have appeared twice). Continuing a remarkable run of sustained success, Virginia Tech has been bowl eligible for 29 consecutive seasons (since 1993), the longest streak in the nation. The Hokies began their 2021 campaign with a win over then-No. 10 North Carolina, marking their first win over a Top 10 opponent in the AP Top 25 since September 6, 2014 (35-21 win over No. 8 Ohio State). Reaching as high as No. 15 in the AP Top 25 this season, Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) clinched bowl eligibility in their final game of the season with a 29-24 win over rival Virginia in the Commonwealth Clash.
The run-heavy Hokies offense tallied 2,286 rushing yards and averaged 190.5 rushing yards per game. Redshirt junior running back Raheem Blackshear enjoyed a breakout season, rushing for a team-leading 714 yards and six touchdowns. Redshirt junior quarterback Braxton Burmeister rushed for 521 yards in addition to his 1,960 passing yards.
Virginia Tech’s stout defense allowed just 22.9 points per game this season. Junior cornerback Jermaine Waller, who collected a team-high four interceptions (tied for the most in the ACC), landed on the All-ACC Third Team. Junior linebacker and co-captain Dax Hollifield finished with a team-high 88 total tackles (40 solo), 9.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks.
On November 30, 2021, former Penn State defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Pry was named the next head football coach at Virginia Tech. J.C. Price will remain in his current position for the Hokies at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Pry returns to Virginia Tech after working as a defensive graduate assistant for the Hokies from 1995-97.
“It’s our privilege to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference as Virginia Tech makes its first-ever appearance in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock. “I know how important it was for Coach Price and our players to extend our season and we’re certainly glad that their efforts are being rewarded. The holiday season is always a special time to visit New York City and I’m looking forward to seeing Hokie Nation cheering on our team against the University of Maryland."
“Virginia Tech has long valued its relationship with the Yankees organization, and we’re pleased to finally have the Hokies participate in this bowl game at Yankee Stadium. The Virginia Tech community will always be grateful for the generosity and graciousness that the Yankees organization and the Steinbrenner family extended to us following the 2007 tragedy on our campus.”
Following the tragic events of April 16, 2007, on the Virginia Tech campus, the Yankees made a $1 million contribution to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. On May 23, 2007, the Yankees invited the Virginia Tech Police and Rescue Squad to Yankee Stadium in a sign of solidarity with the Hokies. Then Virginia Tech President Charles Steger threw the first pitch for that game against the Boston Red Sox. Additionally, the Yankees wore a “VT” patch on the left side of their caps during the game. In March 2008, the Yankees visited the memorial to the April 16 victims and played an exhibition game against the Tech baseball squad in Blacksburg.
“I’m honored to lead our team to New York for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Virginia Tech interim Head Coach J.C. Price. “The Hokies have a proud bowl tradition, and we’re excited to showcase our football team in the Big Apple. We have a very resilient group of players who stuck together through a number of challenges this season. I know that they’d like nothing better than to conclude our season on a winning note against a Big Ten opponent like the University of Maryland.”
Maryland will play in its first bowl game under Head Coach Michael Locksley. The 28th bowl appearance in program history will be the Terrapins’ first at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, as they become the seventh different Big Ten team (in seven games of the bowl’s partnership with the conference) to play in the game. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl will mark the program’s first bowl game since 2016. 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 singleseason records in both completions (308, first in Big Ten) and passing yards (3,595, second in Big Ten), while also ranking second in the conference in passing yards per game (300.8), tied for second in passing touchdowns (24) and third in completion percentage (68.4). Sophomore wide receiver Rakim Jarrett led the team with 56 receptions and 783 receiving yards, while also hauling in five touchdowns. Additionally, senior tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo collected a team-high-tying five touchdowns to go along with 49 receptions for 433 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 players) and was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection.
“We are excited to be selected to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Maryland Head Coach Michael Locksley. “Returning to postseason play is the next step in the upward trend of our program. I'm thrilled that our players, especially the seniors, will have the chance to play inside Yankee Stadium and experience all of the special events that come with a bowl trip. I’m also happy that our fans will have the chance to drive up to New York City and watch us take on Virginia Tech, a former ACC rival.”
“We are thrilled to be playing in the Pinstripe Bowl at one of the most iconic stadiums in the world of sports, Yankee Stadium,” said Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics Damon Evans. “It is special to play a bowl game in the New York metro area, which has more than 40,000 Maryland alumni. This is the perfect setting for our program as we continue our ascent under Coach Locksley. He will have our team prepared and ready for competition against Virginia Tech, a familiar foe from our days in the ACC. December 29 is going to be a special day for all of Terp Nation.”
“We are delighted to host the student-athletes, staff and families of Virginia Tech and Maryland at the 2021 New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Mark Holtzman, Executive Director of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. “The holiday season in New York City will provide an incredible atmosphere for the entire week of bowl-related activities, and Yankee Stadium will shine a spotlight on two terrific teams that have such devoted fans and alumni. We are excited to have the return of college football at Yankee Stadium and look forward to adding to the history and tradition of ‘New York’s Bowl Game.’”
“We are excited to again be a part of the college bowl season at Yankee Stadium,” said Josh Feine, New Era Cap Co. Inc., Vice President of Sports Marketing, Corporate Partnerships & Business Development. “The New Era Pinstripe Bowl is a unique New York City holiday tradition, and we are thrilled to share in the event with the Yankees, Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland.“
Courtesy of New Era, fans can enjoy the 2021 New Era Pinstripe Bowl Collection, which includes headwear and apparel options for both men and women and features team logos and Pinstripe Bowl logos. Fans will be able to purchase 39THIRTY® stretch fit caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, a visor and knits at Yankee Stadium during the game or on neweracap.com for a retail price range of $24.99-$61.99 USD.
This year’s game will be nationally televised by ESPN and broadcast by ESPN Radio. Special events, promotions and community outreach will take place throughout New Era Pinstripe Bowl week to once again create an unforgettable experience for fans, families, students and staff. Scheduled visits to New York City landmarks will include One World Observatory, the 9/11 Memorial, Radio City Music Hall and more.
Tickets for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl are currently on sale at www.pinstripebowl.com, the official website of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and www.ticketmaster.com. For up-to-the-moment information regarding the game, fans are also encouraged to follow the Bowl game’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts – @PinstripeBowl.