Name: MasterCard Alamo Bowl
Motto: "America's fastest growing bowl game." Which makes it kind of like a successful business, or an aggressive carcinoid tumor. Either way, it's something to be taken seriously.
Intrusive Corporate Sponsor: MasterCard, who coincidentally did or will sponsor your early to mid-twenties, too.
Tradition Rating: To show you the antediluvian tree rings of the Alamo Bowl we'd have to tell you that Hayden Fry coached in the first one back in the dark ages of 1993. 1993 was also the year we lost the scarlet V hanging around our neck; not coincidentally, it was also the year Bill Clinton was inaugurated, which touched off an association in our minds between Clinton/sex that took seven years to catch on in the rest of the nation. EDSBS: always a trendsetter! Therefore, we give the Alamo Bowl the tradition rating of: Sexy Bubba.
Tradition rating: Bubba.
Setup: Big 12 vs. Big 10. Can result in thrilling runouts like 31-28 Wisconsin over Colorado; may also result in 66-17 mutilations like the 2000 Nebraska/Northwestern game. Either way, San Antonio gets two conferences with teams known for traveling in numbers and drinking heavily, which can only please the burghers of the city.
Location. San Antonio, a town we know best for arresting Ozzy Osbourne in a green evening gown as he peed on the Alamo. A vibrant, multicultural city that allegedly does a roaring bar business come bowl time, San Antonio has a curious way of presenting itself:
The Riverwalk has multiple personalitiesquite park-like in some stretches, while other areas are full of activity with European-style sidewalk cafes, specialty boutiques, art galleries, nightclubs and gleaming high-rise hotels.
We could say the same about certain stretches of downtown Atlanta:
Intown Atlanta has multiple personalities--quaint, run-down ghetto spotted with hip-hop posters and young men grabbing their nuts, interspersed with ruthlessly redone craftsman homes owned by frowning hipsters pretending they're not yuppies, all mixed in with car washes, wig shops, upscale grocery stores, porn shops, and dog day care business located next to liquor stores and more porn shops festooned with more hip hop posters.
San Antonio--what multiple personalities call home!
The other thing we know about San Antonio is that Cloak and Dagger was set there, so if a dying FBI agent hands you a video game and expires on the pavement in front of you, run lest you be saved by Dabney Coleman in Green Beret gear stolen straight out of Richard Crenna's First Blood trailer.
Jack Flack always gets away.
Matchup quality: Matthew(dammit!) Jason Bourne-level intriguing. Michigan and Nebraska are both models of boundless potential restrained by some anonymous malaise on both sides of the ball. Nebraska's defense would shutter one team and then let Kansas roll on them; Michigan would straight smack an opponent one week and go soft-zone wacky the next. Offensively, both teams were even more erratic: the Wolverines watched Chad Henne regress for most of the year, while Husker fans pulled their nails out watching Zac Taylor play pass-0-matic in Bill Callahan's scheme. Analysts will rely on "whoever makes the fewest mistakes will win the game;" this is code for "I don't trust either team to fuck a watermelon with someone else's dick."
We can't really blame them for the ole.
What to watch for: For Michigan, the Henne watch will be all-important. With decent run support, he's the standard white-guy qb from Michigan, throwing the play action and boot to the TE passes with aplomb; without run support, he's herky-jerky and indecisive and will run the O into punt situations all day. The Michigan defensive lottery will be key, too, since the plague of the cookie-dough-soft zone could feed the Nebraska short passing hearty yardage all day.
None of this may be a concern for Michigan, though, because Bill Callahan remains one of the few coaches who can call a sure thing into a loss in matter of minutes. Running the dink und dunk with a qb who's right around fifty percent in completions does that to a pass-first coach, and Callahan's reliance on the weakest part of their offensive scheme in crucial situations has to make the staid farmers of the N-state weep into their popcorn. When it's good, it's a great system; when it's bad, it's terrible. And when a team is as inconsistent as Nebraska, the good doesn't stay around nearly long enough in a game to pull out a win.