CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – As expected, the Butler football team has accepted an invitation to play in the Graphic Edge Bowl to determine the NJCAA national champion, as the No. 2-ranked Grizzlies will take on top-ranked Iowa Western in the UNI Dome on Sunday, Dec. 2.
The Grizzlies went 11-0 this season and successfully defended their Jayhawk Conference and Region VI championships this season. The Grizzlies capped the regular season with a 26-16 win at home over No. 12 Hutchinson on Sunday. They will face an Iowa Western team that is also 11-0 after rolling through the Midwest Football Conference. The Reivers finished the regular season with a 54-7 win over Ellsworth (Iowa) on Saturday.
The game will be played on Sunday, Dec. 2 with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be played at the UNI Dome (10,000), home field of the NCAA Division I FCS Northern Iowa. Tickets are all general admission and available at the door only. Tickets are $13 for adults and $8 for students.
The bowl matchup will be a stark contrast when it comes to history and tradition. Butler has won six national titles, the most recent being back-to-back crowns in 2007 and 2008. Butler is the only program in NJCAA history to twice win back-to-back, as the Grizzlies also pulled the feat in 1998 and 1999. The Grizzlies will be playing in their 10th national championship game in program history.
Meanwhile, Iowa Western will be playing in its first national championship game. The program is in only its fourth season of existence, but has come to taste success quickly. The Reivers are 20-2 in the previous two seasons and played in bowl games in 2010 and 2011.
"I will be elated and am sure everyone around here will be feeling the same way. I have never been to the bowl game up there but have heard good things about it," Troy Morrell, head coach at Butler stated.
Other Butler bowl game notes:
* This is the 14th time in the past 15 years Butler has played in a postseason bowl game. Overall, this will be the 25th bowl game in school history. Butler is 14-10 all time in bowl games, including a 21-17 win over Trinity Valley (Texas) last year in the Citizen's Bank Bowl in Pittsburg, Kansas.
* This will be the second time Butler has played a bowl game in Iowa. The Grizzlies played in Cedar Falls in 1989 in the R.C. Cola Bowl, beating Iowa Central 24-0. The R.C. Cola Bowl was the predecessor to the current Graphic Edge Bowl.
* Butler coach Troy Morrell is 6-5 in bowl games, having led the Grizzlies to the postseason in 12 of his 13 seasons as head coach. He has an overall record of 137-16. He has the second most wins among active coaches in NJCAA football, trailing only Gene Murphy of Holmes (Miss.) who has 153 wins in 20 seasons. Morrell currently ranks 20th in wins all-time among NJCAA head coaches.
* This is the third bowl appearance for Iowa Western. In 2010, Iowa Western lost to Snow College in the Top of the Mountains Bowl. A year ago, the Reivers blasted Rochester (Minn.) 62-0 in the Graphic Edge Bowl.
Butler's bowl appearances:
1951 Coffey Bowl (Coffeyville) Butler 12, Coffeyville 9
1981 Rodeo Bowl (Arkansas City) * Butler 21, NE Oklahoma A&M 14
1983 Roaring Ranger Bowl (Ranger, Texas) Butler 21, Ranger (TX) 11
1984 Garland Shrine Bowl (Garland, Texas) Butler 27, Tyler (TX) 14
1985 Valley of the Sun Bowl (Phoenix, Ariz.) Phoenix (AZ) 43, Butler 13
1986 Dixie Rotary Bowl (St. George, Utah) Dixie State (UT) 36, Butler 33
1987 Texas Classic (Tyler, Texas) Blinn (TX) 35, Butler 14
1989 R.C. Cola Bowl (Cedar Falls, Iowa) Butler 24, Iowa Central 0
1990 East Bowl (Johnson City, Tenn.) Butler 23, Lee's McRae (TN) 8
1993 Mineral Water Bowl (Excelsior Springs, Mo.) NE Oklahoma A&M 52, Butler 50
1996 Valley of the Sun Bowl (Phoenix, Ariz.) Glendale (AZ) 45, Butler 26
1998 Real Dairy Bowl (Pocatello, Idaho) * Butler 22, Ricks (ID) 18
1999 Dixie Rotary Bowl (St. George, Utah) * Butler 49, Dixie State (UT) 35
2000 Cannon Empire Bowl (Garden City, NY) Butler 30, Nassau (NY) 20
2001 Golden Isles Bowl (New Brunswick, Ga.) * Georgia Military 31, Butler 19
2002 Dixie Rotary Bowl (St. George, Utah) Dixie State 31 (UT), Butler 18
2003 Dixie Rotary Bowl (St. George, Utah) * Butler 14, Dixie State (UT) 10
2004 Dalton Defender's Bowl (Coffeyville) * Pearl River (MS) 35, Butler 14
2005 Top of the Mountains Bowl (Salt Lake City) Snow (UT) 17, Butler 14
2006 Dalton Defender's Bowl (Coffeyville) Butler 57, Vermilion (MN) 0
2007 Top of the Mountains Bowl (Salt Lake City) * Butler 56, Snow (UT) 27
2008 Top of the Mountains Bowl (Salt Lake City) * Butler 37, Snow (UT) 30, 2OT
2010 Citizen's Bank Bowl (Pittsburg) * Navarro (TX) 13, Butler 12
2011 Citizen's Bank Bowl (Pittsburg) Butler 21, Trinity Valley (TX) 17
Iowa Western's bowl appearances
2010 Top of the Mountains Bowl (Salt Lake City) Snow 48, Iowa Western 36
2011 Graphic Edge Bowl (Cedar Falls, IA) Iowa Western 62, Rochester (MN) 0