Dear Friends of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,
Another week, another big upset in the Pac-12. The top story in college football last Saturday played out in Palo Alto, where No. 21 Stanford upended No. 2 USC, 21-14.
Other national headliners included Notre Dame's decisive win over No. 10 Michigan State and Louisiana-Monroe's near-miss in overtime at Auburn. A week earlier, the Warhawks had upset then No. 8 Arkansas, 34-31. Two straight wins over SEC teams by La.-Monroe would've sent our old friend, Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson, into ecstasy.
Pac-12: We were in Palo Alto Saturday for the SC-Stanford game. Bowl directors are supposed to be objective, but I must admit I felt proud of my old school, where I also worked in the Athletic Dept. for many years. On this day, the Stanford defense was outstanding and Stepfan Taylor established himself as one of the top running backs in the country. Prior to the game, I enjoyed a chance to meet with Stanford's new Athletic Director, Bernard Muir, and chat with ESPN.com writer Ivan Maisel, one of the finest sports journalists in America.
UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona also remained unbeaten, the Bruins registering an impressive 37-6 win over Houston. There were two near-misses, as Cal lost a heartbreaker at Ohio State, 35-28, while Arizona State fell just short at Missouri, 24-20. The crazy ending of the day, if not the season, took place in the Utah vs. BYU "holy war," where the Utes held on for a 24-21 win. BYU had two shots at a game-tying field goal after the game had apparently ended on an incomplete pass. The officials first cleared the field and put a second back on the clock, giving BYU a shot at a 51-yard field goal, and then, after the kick was blocked, moved the ball 15 yards closer and gave BYU another chance because the crowd had stormed the field while the blocked kick was still in play. The second attempt hit the upright and fell away. It was an important win for Utah and a tough loss for BYU, which is slated to play in the 2013 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Navy: The Midshipmen ran into a very motivated Penn State team looking for its first win and lost 30-7. Navy (now 0-2) hopes to get untracked this Saturday when it opens the home season against VMI. Our esteemed director of communications, Doug Kelly, informs me that the last time Navy started 0-2 was back in 2005, when the Mids rebounded to finish 8-4. Needless to say, we hope history repeats itself this year, and an impressive win on Saturday would be a good start.
This week: There are several important games in the Pac-12 this weekend. USC and Cal will meet at the Coliseum, both teams attempting to bounce back from tough losses. Two unbeatens meet in Eugene, where the high-flying Ducks host surprising Arizona. And Arizona State hosts Utah in a game between two 2-1 teams hoping to take a big step toward post-season play.
Off the field: Today we pay tribute to the oldest sponsor of our Bowl. Momo's restaurant, located right across the street from AT&T Park, has been with us since day one. Started by Pete and Janet Osborne in 1998, a few years before the ballpark opened (and named after Pete's grandmother and mentor), Momo's has become a San Francisco institution. It's also been the site of our annual VIP Dinner held a few nights before the game. The combination of good food and an intimate, casual-yet-elegant setting has made the VIP Dinner one of the real highlights of bowl week. In recent years, Pete and Janet have opened Pete's Tavern, Pedro's Cantina, and most recently, the Mission Rock Resort. It's been fun to watch their business grow along with ours, and to see good friends doing so well. Our sincere thanks to these special people for their partnership and commitment to the game.