Monday, December 25, 2006

BOWL PREVIEW: Emerald Bowl

Ah, college football in San Francisco. What could be more natural? A Nazi party meeting in Tel Aviv? A religious tolerance celebration in Baghdad? A serious discussion of ideas in Congress?

A San Francisco treat.

It's time for the Emerald Bowl, sponsored by Emerald, the "the snack nut brand of Diamond Foods, Inc." Again, peanuts sponoring a college football game. What could be more natural?

Personally, as someone whose birthstone is the emerald, I couldn't be prouder that the green gem is being associated with a meeting between the dregs of two conferences that are so decidedly average. Nothing says "bowl game" like rampant mediocrity. Or senility and nepotism, really.

I guess this is sort of a symbol of the whole bowl system.

Bowl: The Emerald Bowl
Location: San Francisco
When: Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Purported reason for existence: To pair -- and I'm not making this up -- the fourth or fifth pick from the Pac-10 with the fifth, sixth or seventh selection out of the ACC.
Real reason for existence: To give a miserably disappointing team from the ACC -- Georgia Tech last year, FSU this year -- an opportunity to at least escape the season with the dignity of a win against a team that loves points but understands not at all this "defense" concept.
Teams: UCLA v. Florida State
Interest level: You want to watch this game to look at two once-great programs and wonder, "Remember when we thought they were cool? Or, at least, talented?" Thus, the interest level is, "Being Bobby Brown."

Morbid curiosity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Key player for UCLA: You're almost tempted to pick Bruce Davis and Justin Hickman, who between them have 25 sacks. But then you remember they're playing Florida State, which means the most importance defensive players will be the cornerbacks and safeties, who will spend their day chasing down interceptions like beads at Mardi Gras. So let's go with Patrick Cowan, whose gutsy performance was enough to drag the underdog Bruins past USC-West.
Key player for Florida State: The anti-key player is Jeff Bowden, who should have one last shot at glorious self-immolation in front of millions. But, again going with second thoughts, give the nod to Greg Carr. If there is a single offensive player who's done well for the Seminoles, it's Carr, who has 11 TD receptions and averages almost 18 yards a catch.
Winner: UCLA. If either of these teams has anything approaching momentum, it's the Bruins, who knocked their rivals out of the NC hunt (and wreaked havoc upon the BCS) in their last regular-season game. Florida State ... well, let's just say we're checking for rigor mortis on more than Papa Bowden.

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