Tazon Azteca XLVII marks a return to Mexico vs the United States

By Roberto Arturo

The 47th edition of the Tazon Azteca returns this historic bowl game to its roots as the top Mexican college players will take on an All Star selection of players from NCAA Div. II and III schools – the Air Raid Tour coached by Hal Mumme – on December 10 at  Chapingo University in Texcoco, Mexico.

The last time this happened was in 2018 when Mexico’s ONEFA All Stars defeated the Eagles 17-10. The most recent edition of the game was played in 2019 but it was between the all stars of the then two Mexican university leagues, the ONEFA and the CONADEIP.

Mexican RB evading All American Eagles defenders in 2018 Tazon Azteca Photo: Maxima Avance

With the amalgamation of those two Mexican college leagues, the game has returned to its original format. And although the Mexican All Stars record against the US select team overall is a dismal 5-13, the squad from Mexico has won the last four (2015-2018).

First played in 1947

First played in 1947, the Tazon Azteca (Aztec Bowl) features an all-star team from the Mexican College Football season, currently being organized by the Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano (ONEFA). It is usually played in mid December, with an NCAA Division II & III all-star team as the opponent.

Some of the players who have played in the game include the former NFL players London Fletcher and Fred Jackson.

The game originated as a result of the growing popularity of football in Mexico, which rivaled the dominant soccer as the most popular sport among the student population. The first opponents were American Teams from US colleges, with Mexico defeating the Randolph Field Air Base in the first edition. For the first four years, the game was named the “Tazon de Plata” (Silver Bowl), a name adopted by the now-defunct Futbol Americano de Mexico (FAM) professional league.

American RB being hauled down during 2016 Tazon Azteca

The next victory for the Mexican side came in 1953 when a selection of Burros from the Polytechnic, Aztecs from Mexico City College (now UDLAP) and the Osos from the Militarized University Sports Pentathlon (PDMU) defeated the New Mexico University Greyhounds 45-26.

In 1955 there was no international game, and the Bowl featured a game between a selection of veterans and a selection of active players with the latter winning 20-13.

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USA defender tackling Mexican RB during 2015 Tazon Azteca

The Bowl was played for the first and only time outside Mexico in 1957, with the game played in Alamo, Texas. Afterwards, the game was not held until 1964, with further hiatus from 1967-1969, 1972-1978, 1981-1983, 1985 and 1995.

A special edition was played in 1996, with the game featuring an overseas opponent: the Palermo Cardinals, from Italy. They were soundly defeated by the Mexican side with a score of 63-8.

USA Eagles RB evading Mexican defender in 2016 Tazon Azteca

From 1997 on, the game would feature a selection of ONEFA vs NCAA Div. III players. The only exception would be the most recently played edition, in 2019. That year, the rival CONADEIP College Football league lost to the ONEFA side 15-14 in a game that served as the start of negotiations for the reunification of both leagues.

The ONEFA has a record of 19 wins and 28 lost games but against NCAA select teams, the record is 5-13. However, the Mexican side has won the last four meetings, from 2015 to 2018.

With the ONEFA now fully unified, the Mexican squad will feature a total of 80 players from the 33 teams that form the Liga Mayor.

Kickoff is set for 1 pm local time, on the campus of Chapingo University.

Tazon Azteca: Team Air Raid @ Team Mexico, Dec. 10, 20:00 CET (8 pm, 2 pm ET)

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