Dear Friends of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,
The opening weekend of the 2012 college football season was fairly quiet, with fewer upsets and last-second heroics than usual.
Only two teams in the AP top 25 were defeated--No. 8 Michigan was trounced by No. 2 Alabama, and No. 24 Boise State was edged by No. 13 Michigan State. As a result of its impressive 41-14 win over the Wolverines, Alabama moved into the No. 1 spot in this week's AP and USA Today (coaches) rankings.
Pac-12: It was a mixed bag for the Pac-12, with eight winners, three losers, and one game postponed because of Hurricane Isaac (Oregon State-Nicholls State). USC, Oregon, Utah, Arizona State and UCLA all registered lop-sided wins. Despite a 49-10 victory over Hawaii, USC dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the national polls behind Alabama. The Jim Mora Era at UCLA got off to a great start, as the Bruins crushed Rice behind RB Johnathan Franklin and redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley. Franklin had two TD runs of over 70 yards and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Stanford edged San Jose State 20-17 in a closer-than-expected contest in Palo Alto, while Washington held on to beat San Diego State and Arizona had to go into overtime to nip Toledo in Rich Rodriguez's debut. On the downside, Nevada spoiled the opening of Cal's new stadium with a 31-24 win over the Bears, Colorado lost to rival Colorado State, and WSU fell to BYU in Mike Leach's first game as the Cougs' head coach.
Navy: The luck of the Irish was all with the Fighting Irish, as Notre Dame blasted the Midshipmen 50-10 in the Emerald Isle Classic in Dublin. One bright spot for Navy was the play of junior quarterback Trey Miller, who completed 14 of 19 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown, providing more of a passing threat than the Mids have shown in awhile.
This week: Several non-conference games that may impact bowl eligibility down the road are on tap in the Pac-12, including four against ranked opponents. Oregon State will open its season by hosting No. 13 Wisconsin, while UCLA entertains No. 16 Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. Arizona goes for its second win at home vs. No. 18 Oklahoma State, while Washington travels to Baton Rouge to meet No. 3 LSU. (As usual, the Pac-12 is playing a tougher non-conference schedule than any of the other major conferences). Two key games take place in Palo Alto and Tempe, where Stanford takes on Duke and Arizona State hosts Illinois. The Cardinal looks to improve upon last week's showing against San Jose State, while ASU, a 63-6 winner over Northern Arizona, hopes to prove it will be a factor to be reckoned with under new coach Todd Graham. Cal and WSU will try to bounce back from last week's disappointment in home games against Southern Utah and Eastern Washington.
Off the field: Since its founding 11 years ago, our Bowl game has generated $130 million for the local tourism industry, according to data compiled by San Francisco Travel (formerly the Convention & Visitors Bureau). We're proud of our economic impact on the City of San Francisco, and we're also very proud of our six affiliated hotels. This year, the Westin St. Francis and the Grand Hyatt on Union Square will serve as headquarters hotels for our teams. The iconic St. Francis, now in its fourth year as a team hotel, will also be the site of our annual Kickoff Luncheon two days before the game. The Grand Hyatt, now in the finishing touches of a splendid renovation, is back as a team hotel after hosting Boston College two years ago. Three hotels with long associations with our Bowl--the Hyatt Regency, Marriott Marquis, and Hilton Fisherman's Wharf--will host the game officials and bands. The Regency, which has been a team hotel seven times, will host the officials this time around. The bands will be at the Marriott, a former team hotel, and the Hilton (for the eighth straight year). The Hilton also serves as the home-away-from-home for our director of communications, Doug Kelly, when he comes down from Sacramento to the bowl office. The Nikko San Francisco is another key hotel partner, hosting our fall Bay Area College Football Kickoff Luncheon and meetings of our Board of Directors.
We consider these hotels an important part of our Bowl family. The experiences that participating teams, bands and officials have at our host hotels is a major factor in how our game is viewed nationally. One of the main reasons we have such a great reputation for hospitality is the quality of our hotels and the great job they do. Our sincere thanks to: Jon Kimball, Laura Pugh and Rhamy Kardani at the St. Francis; David Nadelman, Matt Kovac and Julie Goleman at the Grand Hyatt; David Lewin, Judy Cronkhite, Stephanie Thomas, Cynthia Taylor and Jeff Carlson at the Hyatt Regency; Anna Marie Presutti, Desiree Hemmelgarn and Andrea Dabu at the Nikko; Michael Hirsch, Diana Ng and Cara Allan at the Hilton; and Scott Oliker and Bob Zimmerman at the Marriott.