Sometimes life just writes its own lame jokes...like when BYU gets a coach named "Bronco" and then plays its first bowl game under him in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada. It helps that their opponent is Cal-Berkeley, a school known for its sterling academic reputation, improving football program, and status as the campus that produced "Naked Man," a student who petitioned for the right to attend class in the nude. (A compromise was reached by asking NM to wear a loincloth, which he agreed to don on cold days.)
Motto: "Clumsily named, but still in the only place where you could conceivably place a teaser on the game while receiving oral sex from a hooker legally all in the comfort of your Bunny Ranch suite." That's not the actual motto, of course, there isn't one on their site, at least. But that's what it should be, dammit.
Intrusive Corporate Sponsor: Pioneer PureVision. We don't even know what this product is, nor will we validate their hamhanded sponsorship by finding out. We're guessing it's something visual and electronic, but it could be contact solution or binoculars for donkeys, for all we care. A bulkier corporate tag hasn't been hung around the neck of a spindly, pre-New Year's bowl game since the "Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl" crashed onto the scene in the mid-nineties.
Tradition rating: A redwood among saplings compared to the GMAC and New Orleans Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl stretches all the way back to the dark ages of the first Bush administration and Pearl Jam. The firste contefte tooke placeth in thine owne yeare of 19 and 92, whenne lordes did leape to the dulcet toness of such luminaries as the brethren Mack Daddy and the righte Daddy Mack. Forthewith, we dubbe the treditione rating off the Las Vegas bowl as: Kriss Kross
Tradition rating: Kriss Kross.
Location. Las Vegas. (Casual, buddy-buddy sportswriter rule infraction: Not typing word "baby" after "Las Vegas" and not simply shortening town to "Vegas." Fine to be assessed later.) We're one of five people on the planet who hate Las Vegas, but for bowl distractions even we have to concede that Vegas wears the sooty crown, a bone-dry aquarium of lust, compulsion, b-list musicians taking fat checks for regular work, neon, and a meth-crazed local workforce devoted to pouring weak drinks down your throat and kicking hookers out of your room 24 hours a day.
The official site doesn't even have to make an effort to promo the town. The attitude is: hey, it's in Las Vegas, connect the dots, dumbass--which is exactly what we'd do, especially with half the visiting fans trucking it down from Utah to spend approximately seven dollars each on gas and a 1.99 casino buffet for lunch. At least the Cal people will get their drink on and play amateur urban anthropologist for a while, marveling at the unparallelled tack of Las Vegas. (We did, after all, see a guy who bore a shocking resemblance to H.I. from Raising Arizona there--wearing the exact same shoes from the dinner party sequence.) The Mormons will likely breeze in for the game, take one disapproving look about the place, and head home with both the Ten Commandments and that hundred dollar bill intact.
Matchup quality: Not great. A mediocre Cal team with some phenomenally talented components faces a bleh BYU team that boasts little of interest besides its coolass 3-3-5 defensive alignment. Once you watch a few exotic blitzes they all should look the same, though, and the game should settle into a tasteless mush of a game that Cal will likely out-talent its way through with ease.
What to watch for: Marshawn Lynch, the Cal running back who was buzz-heavy running into the season but fell off the map nationally once the Reggie Bush mythos swelled to zeppelinesque size. Runs blood-vengeance hard. Joe Ayoob, too will be spectacular, but in reverse: he throws picks of the Testaverde variety, total head-scratchers that would send most coaches scrambling for a diagnosis of colorblindness or dementia immediately.Ed.: Orson's horribly mistaken here, as Steve Levy will be getting the start ahead of Ayoob. How he will balance this with his obligations to ESPN and Sportscenter remains to be seen. Surprise! BYU has a 3,000 yard passer, John Beck, who's everything you've come to expect from the Cougars: accurate, consistent, and blindingly white. New coach, same story: BYU can score, but their efense is still eficient and allows the opposition to evastate them own the fiel .
One thing we can tell you NOT to watch for: the halftime show.
HALFTIME SHOW Cheerleaders and dancers age 5-18 years old will perform the Halftime Extravaganza along with both teams bands and spirit squads.
They can't get Goulet to do a staring contest with a taxidermed ram on the fifty yard line?
You win. You always do.