Thursday, December 28, 2006


One of the great things about going to a bowl game is a chance, usually just for an afternoon, to see the sights and sounds of the host city. Peach Chick-fil-A Bowl participants can tour Atlanta. Orange Bowl visitors can take in Miami. Teams going to the Independence Bowl ... well, let's just say Bama players know how to amuse themselves in Shreveport.
And then we come to the Sun Bowl, where players can see beautiful El Paso.
How can they resist the temptations?
Yes, El Paso, perhaps the only town in America that features a link on the front of its tourism site saying "Experience Mexico." Yes, the big draw to El Paso is that you can easily go to Mexico.
So it should be easy for the players here to focus on the work at hand. And that, it should be noted, is competing in a bowl game with a history that actually predates the Mike Dubose years at Alabama. Since 1935, teams have fought it out in the western end of Texas, including Arizona State and Catholic's thrilling 0-0 tie in 1940.
Bowl: Brut Sun Bowl
Location: El Paso, Texas
When: Dec. 29, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
Purported reason for existence: To match a team from the Pac-10 against the winner of a "lottery" among the Big XII, Big East and Notre Dame.
And the opponent this year will be...
Real reason for existence: Inertia.
Teams: Oregon State vs. Missouri
Interest level: The beginning of a good series, when you see glimpses of greatness, followed by a flat note.
Key player for Oregon State: WR Sammie Stroughter, whose 1,600 all-purpose yards lead the team. Stroughter has also caught four TDs.
Key player for Missouri: QB Chase Daniel, who threw for 3,197 yards and 26 touchdowns against 10 picks and ran for 393 yards, not shabby for a quarterback. He also rushed for four scores.
Winner: Oregon State. Left for dead before the season even began, they quietly put together a 9-4 record. In the meantime, Missouri rang up lots of easy wins and just as much buzz before going on a late-season skid. Momentum carries the day.

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