Name: Sadly, not the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl anymore: no, just the bland, old, trustworthy Independence Bowl, sans Poulan Weed Eater. For those of us that remember the glory of the Poulan Weed Eater Independence bowl, the shine of this game will never wax as bright as it did when named after a lawn tool.
Motto: Shreveport or Die! Again, no real motto to this one. Though we're all about "Shreveport or Die," since it sounds like a song your local bar band Dad likes would play. (You know, white boy stomp music for the Delbert McClinton-listening, "I-tuck-my-golf-shirt-into-my-jean-shorts" crowd.)
Fake Bowl? Hardly. The Independence Bowl gots history, sir: lest you think the pre-Christmas bowl game began as yet another fecal creation of the Worldwide Leader, the Independence Bowl began its life as a December 13th bowl game in 1976 between McNeese State and Tulsa.
Intrusive Corporate Sponsor: PetroSun. They drill for oil, a likely suspect for a sponsor of a bowl based in the industrial heartland of Louisiana. Weirdly enough, they do not have a corporate website. We must therefore assume they are run by a shadowy global conglomerate, and that their every move is plotted by a one-eyed majordomo bent on world domination. Expect Jason Bourne to interrupt halftime festivities with a spectacular fight scene where he kills an internationally renowned assassin with a clarinet.
Tradition Rating: Older than most, and very nearly approaching venerable. The top hits of 1976 included Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find a Love Like Mine," so we'll call the Independence Bowl at a rating of Lou Rawlsish. When else are we going to find an excuse to post a clip of Lou Rawls giving a prostate exam to Damon Wayans?
Setup: SEC/Big 12. After years of shuffling around, the matchups here have been quality eatin' over the past few years. Last year's furious Missouri comeback was the latest in a chain of good games. Something about middling SEC and middling Big 12 teams equals viewing gold. This gives you yet another excuse to plead explosive diarrhea, leave the office with your hand placed theatrically over your ass, and then run home to catch the game at 4:30.
Location. Shreveport, though the city's pushing for wider brand recognition of the name "Shreveport-Bossier." When you've got a brand name like "Shreveport," though, we don't know why you'd ever mess with it.
We know two reasons why Shreveport is cool, though.
1. Chimp Haven, a home for retired monkeys. Merits mention because monkeys and monkey-related items are always funny.
2. The gender ratio? 87.4 males for every 100 females. Take out the sliver of gay/impotent/grumpy bachelors, and that's fair shooting for even the homeliest of Dockers'-wearing men. Take that gym membership and scrap it, men of Shreveport, for you are truly selling umbrellas in a hurricane.
Matchup quality: Strong as usual. Alabama can't score. Oklahoma can't stop scoring. The entirely resistable force meets the very movable object.
Oklahoma State's giving away scads of yardage--371 a game or so--while scoring around 35 a game thanks to a productive run game and J.R. Bobby Reid's emergence as a dangerous quarterback. We keep a jar of old warm fuzzies for Larry Fedora, who when given the reins at Florida proved to be a very talented and capable OC. All that "potential capital" Chris Leak had can be traced to his tutelage, though Fedora can get very bubble-screen happy at times.
Alabama, even in a down year, is still doing Joe Kines proud: a stingy 288 yards total per game for opposing offenses. The offense and its prospects in this game are anyone's guess, though. Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader is still on staff (no job offers luring him away? Shocking.) and will likely run the same chicken-broth-exciting O that got Bama into the quagmire of 2006 to begin with, so expect nothing new there.
One other red flag: Alabama's injury list is kilometers long, and includes Jimmy Johns, the most talented offensive player they have.
What to watch for: Adarius Bowman, the OK State wide receiver on the receiving end of those play action bombs. John Tanner Cody Parker Esteemed Penis Mansome Jefferson Wilson the 3rd, Esq., who may or may not be given the freedom to haul off and chuck deep against a very loving, caring, and generous Cowboy defense. Joe Kines, who if there is a god on this planet will be miked up so the world can giggle at the Boomhauerisms coming out of his mouth.
Talented, coachless, and multimonikered: John Tanner Cody Parker Esteemed Penis Mansome Jefferson Wilson the 3rd, Esq.
OK State should stand a chance since Bama's beaten up, discombobulated after a coach's firing, and wondering what they're doing in Shreveport in the first place. The Cowboys may not tackle after the catch, sure--but they do tackle you before, averaging 3 sacks a game and 7.58 tackles for loss a game, something scaring "the bejeezus" out of Todd at Roll Bama Roll. An offense like Alabama's can't lose yards and play deep into their pile of chips, which Oklahoma State will force them to do.
Oklahoma State won't stop Alabama, but they're talented enough to win another Independence Bowl classic similar to last year's South Carolina/Missouri sprint. 41-38? Sure, 41-38.