Dear Friends of the Fight Hunger Bowl,
Other than opening weekend, when eight teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (the old Division 1-AA) knocked off favored opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1-A), the first six weeks of the season had been fairly quiet in terms of upsets. That all changed last Saturday, when five teams in the top 20 were upset by unranked opponents. Utah surprised No. 5 Stanford in Salt Lake City, Missouri beat No. 7 Georgia, Texas stunned No. 12 Oklahoma, Penn State outlasted No. 18 Michigan in four overtimes, and Wisconsin badgered No. 19 Northwestern. Seems the unpredictability that makes college football the best sport in the land is alive and well.
This weekend will mark the arrival of the first set of BCS rankings for 2013, which undoubtedly will be met by the usual grumbling, second-guessing, and complaining about the BCS system. Next year, the BCS will be replaced by the College Football Playoff and, coincidentally, the selection committee for the Playoff was announced today. So beginning in 2014, these 13 folks will become the targets of the grumbling, second-guessing and complaining. It's definitely not a job for the faint of heart.
Pac-12: The feature game last weekend was No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 16 Washington in Seattle. The Huskies made it interesting and held Oregon under 55 points for the first time this year, but the Ducks pulled away in the second half to win 45-24. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota continues to build a strong case for Heisman Trophy consideration. He now has passed or run for 19 touchdowns this year while committing zero turnovers. Utah's upset over Stanford established the Utes' Pac-12 credentials after close losses to Oregon State and UCLA. In other games, USC beat Arizona in its first game under interim coach Ed Orgeron, Oregon State came from behind to top Washington State in Pullman, and UCLA and Arizona State routed Cal and Colorado.
The conference now has one bowl eligible team (6-0 Oregon), three teams with five wins (Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State), and five teams with four (Arizona State, USC, Utah, Washington, and Washington State). Arizona is also in the mix at 3-2. There could be as many as eight or nine Pac-12 teams eligible for the post-season this year, a very encouraging prospect for bowls with Pac-12 affiliations.
BYU: The Cougars won their third straight with a convincing 38-20 win over Georgia Tech. For the second week in a row the BYU defense had a pick six, this time a 51-yarder by Asani Fua. Quarterback Taysom Hill continued to improve, hitting 16 of his first 20 passes.
This week: BYU (4-2) goes on the road to face unbeaten Houston in yet another tough assignment. With upcoming games against Boise State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, the Cougars have one of the most challenging schedules in the country. They need two more wins to lock up a berth in the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Pac-12 schedule is highlighted by the matchup between No. 9 UCLA and No. 13 Stanford in Palo Alto. The teams met twice last year, once in the regular season and then in the Pac-12 championship game. Both were hard-fought Stanford victories. The Bruins are looking to turn the tables this year, while Stanford is looking to rebound from last week's upset at Utah. Other key league games include Utah at Arizona and Washington at Arizona State. Meanwhile, USC travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.
Off the field: Food is a very important component of bowl week. Twelve years ago, when we started the game as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl, our very first sponsor was Momo's Restaurant, right across from AT&T Park at the corner of 2nd and King. (It was so long ago that AT&T was then known as Pac Bell Park). Owners Pete Osborne and his wife, Janet, subsequently opened Pete's Tavern, Pedro's Cantina and Mission Rock Resort. This December, for the 12th year in a row, Momo's will host the bowl's annual VIP dinner. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pete and Janet for their ongoing friendship and commitment to the game.
We're also proud to welcome back Il Fornaio as a sponsor of the game. I've been a fan of the Il Fornaio Restaurants for many years and was delighted when they came aboard as a bowl partner last year. The Battery Street/Levi's Plaza location will host our annual volunteer "thank you" dinner, plus the coaches' reception and team site visit dinners. Our sincere thanks to Mike Beatrice, President and COO, VP Marketing Mike Mindel, Marketing Manager Alison Weese, and Event Coordinator Ana Ligi for their enthusiastic support.