OMG Holy shit we thought we were behind but now we're totally behind in grand fashion. With apologies to Ian we're skipping the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl despite the fantastic possibilities offered by its sponsor's name, since it's already underway and involves two teams that we honestly don't care about at all, Minnesota and Virginia, in a city that bores us to gas-huffing death, Nashville. (We grew up there, so we come by the denigration honestly.) Three bowls! Go!
Name: Vitalis Sun Bowl.
Motto: "Vitalis: It's What Makes Grampa Spiffy!"
Intrusive Corporate Sponsor: Vitalis. Yes, the same shit Grampa put in his hair. Vitalis is evidently in the middle of a radical rebranding: a visit to the site doesn't reveal a picture of a nattily dressed, distinguished older man in a cardigan, but instead a multi-paneled portrait of a nearly naked , 16-year-oldwoman (the second wife?) and the Vitalis logo, as if Vitalis were attempting to go from "Early Bird Buffet Ladykiller Hair salve" to "AXE Body Spray for the Dockers Crew." Good luck with that.
Tradition Rating: 1935--wow. Unprecedented territory for our tradition ratings. What happened in 1935..lessee...Mussolini invades Ethiopia? Maybe good to describe yesterday's Emerald Bowl, but not useful here...AA is founded? No, but perhaps appropriate for the Alamo Bowl and Michigan fans thereafter....how about the Dust Bowl? A swirling cataclysm of chaos obscuring all sight and engulfing whole fields? Yes, that sounds like the defenses we'll see here. Therefore we give the Sun Bowl a tradition rating of: Dust Bowl.
A huge, vague mess, just like UCLA and Northwestern's defenses. Tradition rating: Dust Bowl.
Setup:Big Ten vs. Pac-10. Yum.
Location. El Paso. The only thing we know about El Paso is their stadium whips ass, especially in its digital form on NCAA 2005: striking, cut granite hills and an arid landscape surrounding a well-carved bowl of earth. It already looks like an alien pitfighting temple; if we had to pick one stadium to stage a battle of two enormous war-bots piloted by noble, doomed Earthling prisoners for the enjoyment of bloodthirsty alien hordes, this would be it. This alone makes the Sun Bowl a prime destination.
Matchup quality: Pretty good, unless UCLA seizes and goes into doormat mode as they did against USC and Arizona.
What to watch for: Doormat mode from the Bruins; UCLA is on the whole a much, much improved team, but when it goes bad it gets catastrophic for UCLA. Northwestern is a whole different mess, a typical score-happy Randy Walker team that could win this game by a score of 52-48 or lose it by the same. Entertaining is what it should be, especially if the halftime consists of the aforementioned giant robot duel. We'll call it a Yuma Swingers party of a game: a 56 on top of a 52 with plenty of scoring.
Name: Independence Bowl
Motto: "No snowstorms--guaranteed! (2000 game exempted)"
Intrusive Corporate Sponsor: Freedom, dammit. Used to be the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl, but tragedy intervened and left only the vague universal concept of independence as sponsor, robbing CFB of the finest bowl name ever.
Tradition Rating:Rolling the bones in Shreveport since 1975, the year Saigon fell and Pol Pot took over Cambodia. But who wants to reminisce about Southeast Asia--sooo muggy, and absolutely nowhere to watch a decent college football game-- when you can fawn over the funniest hair style ever: Warren Beatty in the year's best movie about a hairdresser, Shampoo. Therefore, the Independence Bowl gets a rating of: Shampoo
Are those women's jeans? Tradition rating: Shampoo.
Setup: Big 12 versus SEC. Very '30s retro: the Dust Bowl vs. the REA...
Location. Shreveport, Lousiana. Their web site's choice of photo seems to want to reinforce this idea: "Shreveport: WE'VE GOT A BRIDGE!" Their motto is "Come play our way on the Red River," which is code for "gambling, gambling, and one kids' science museum," as there are six hotel/casino complexes listed under the "must sees" and one feature listed under "family fun." Leave the kids at home, we're guessing, or else turn them loose to panhandle in the streets to make up for your faro losses.
The best part of Shreveport's site is the film office, which pulls off a tremendous feat here:
The scenic beauty of the area provides an exciting backdrop for any production, and our mild climate allows for year-round shooting. Some of our recent productions include Walker Texas Ranger, True Hollywood Stories, Interview With a Vampire, Universal Soldier, Unsolved Mysteries and a Hal Sutton PGA commercial.
Describing the exact contents of our DVD library in one sentence....eerie coincidence? We think not.
How did they know?
Matchup quality: Decent. We have no idea which Missouri team will show up, or whether Brad Smith will play one of his rampaging 400 yard total/200 passing/200 rushing games, or decide to linger in the pocket and become a Midwestern Reggie Ball for four quarters. If he does, it's a game, since Spurrier's outweighing Pinkel on the coaching brain scales by a few hecatons; if he doesn't, it'll get ugly fast.
What to watch for: Smith, the ultimate barometer of whether Missouri will play a game or not. Ko Simpson, the best free safety in the SEC, gleefully going helmet to helmet anytime he can and generally wilding through blockers in a blind frenzy. Broadcast shots of the bridge and not much else in terms of local framing by the broadcast crew (bonus points for showing a casino.) Sidney Rice getting the ball short, long, off the bench, on handoffs, express mailed to him at halftime...whatever it takes, he's getting the ball a lot until it doesn't work. Jim Donnan's leaning Missouri, so South Carolina's our pick, and not just because we sleep with a visor beneath our pillows at night.
Peach Bowl pending...stay tuned.