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ASU Football Bowl History: The 1971 Fiesta Bowl Victory

The Sun Devils took home a win in the first-ever Fiesta Bowl, defeating the Florida State Seminoles 45-38.

The first Fiesta Bowl cake
The first Fiesta Bowl cake
ASU Libraries

The 1971 season for the Arizona State Sun Devils football team was full of great expectations; Charles Dickens himself would have testified to that fact.

Fresh off an undefeated season, ASU entered 1971 with a new quarterback that was destined for greatness: Danny White. The sophomore signal caller started his Sun Devil career inauspiciously enough, throwing 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. At the time, Arizona State was largely a running team, with superstar back Woody Green and his partner in crime, Benny Malone, combining for 2,126 yards and 13 touchdowns in 1971.

After a 10-1 regular season, with the only loss coming against a 5-6 Oregon State team in Portland, the Sun Devils headed to the Fiesta Bowl, a brand-new bowl dedicated to ensuring teams like Arizona State had a bowl bid after an excellent season in the WAC.

Their competition? The 8-3 Florida State Seminoles, who were led into battle by gunslinging quarterback Gary Huff. Huff had thrown for nearly 3,000 yards during the regular season and was the main focus of the Sun Devils' defense.

The first half of the first Fiesta Bowl was a nightmare for Green, who lost three fumbles as the Seminoles took a 28-21 lead into the break.

The offensive onslaught continued, and the Sun Devils found themselves tied 38-38 with Florida State with moments left in the game. Danny White and ASU were at the Seminoles two-yard line with less than a minute to play. Woody Green took the handoff, charged into the endzone, and secured the Fiesta Bowl victory for the good guys. Final score: ASU 45, FSU 38.

The payout? $168,000. The Fiesta Bowl pays out a lot more nowadays.