Dear Friends of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,
It's an exciting time in the Bay Area, with our San Francisco Giants headed back to the World Series, the 49ers and Raiders in the middle of the NFL season, and of course, college football going strong. Though our focus is primarily on the gridiron, we're also big Giants fans here at the KFHB. We work closely with the team's operations and box office staff in putting on the game at AT&T, and our office was at the ballpark for the first eight years of the Bowl's existence. So we have many friends at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. The list starts, of course, with our game's co-founder, Pat Gallagher, who was a Giants' executive for more than 30 years. The entire Bowl family sends the Giants our heartiest congratulations on the National League pennant and wishes them the best of luck in the World Series. I was fortunate enough to attend Game 1 of the Series in 2010, and I'll be going back tonight thanks to our partners at the Grand Hyatt on Union Square, headquarters hotel for one of our Bowl teams this year.
Last Week: The St. Louis Cardinals may have fallen to the Giants, but another Cardinal, the Stanford Cardinal, dominated Cal, 21-3, in last Saturday's Big Game in Berkeley. Chase Thomas and the Stanford defense held Cal to three yards on the ground, while Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor accounted for 189. It was my first visit to the new Memorial Stadium, which is very impressive. Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, Deputy AD Solly Fulp, and the Cal athletic staff have every right to be extremely proud of their beautiful venue. In other Pac-12 games, Arizona ran away from Washington, 52-17, while Oregon State survived pesky Utah, 21-7. Three Pac-12 teams have already qualified for bowl eligibility--No. 2 ranked Oregon (7-0), No. 7 Oregon State (6-0) and No. 10 USC (6-1). Stanford, UCLA and Arizona (all 5-2) need one more win, while Arizona (4-3) and Washington (3-4) are also in the hunt.
There was more good news for our Bowl as Navy racked up its third straight win, coming from behind to edge Indiana, 31-30. Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds continued his fourth quarter heroics, passing for the winning TD with two minutes left. It was Navy's first win over a Big Ten team since 1979. The Midshipmen, now 4-3, need two more wins to clinch an invitation to our game.
This Week: Navy goes back on the road to face an explosive East Carolina team (5-3) that is unbeaten at home. Last year ECU won 38-35 at Annapolis when Navy missed a short field goal on the last play of the game. There are several important contests on the Pac-12 schedule, including: USC at Arizona, UCLA at Arizona State, Cal at Utah, and Oregon State at Washington. All have post-season implications for the teams involved. USC is hoping for a BCS bid, while Arizona needs two more wins to qualify for a bowl. The winner of the UCLA-ASU game (between two 5-2 teams) becomes bowl eligible. It's must-win time for Cal and Utah; both teams have five losses, so the loser will have to go undefeated the rest of the way to make it. Washington also needs a win badly after getting thumped at Arizona, while unbeaten Oregon State hopes to keep its own BCS hopes alive.
Off the Field: I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize our restaurant partners for 2012. In a previous update I talked in some detail about our longstanding relationship with Momo's, which dates back to Day 1 of the Bowl. Our thanks again to Pete and Janet Osborne; they will once again host our VIP dinner on Dec. 27. Mijita/Public House (formerly Acme Chop House) has partnered with the Bowl for the past six years and will again be the site of our pre-game VIP party. Thanks to GM Alison Harper and Events Manager Nathan Carraway. Players Sports Grill and Lucky Strike will host team dinners during bowl week, with the players enjoying arcade games at Players and bowling at Lucky Strike. Our thanks to James Hutton and Stephen Malloy at Players and RaeAnne Turner of Lucky Strike.
Finally, I'm pleased to announce a new sponsor this year--the Il Fornaio Restaurants and Bakeries. I'm a longtime fan of Il Fornaio's authentic Italian cuisine, and we're excited to have them involved with the Bowl. The San Francisco location on Battery Street will host our annual volunteer "thank you" dinner in January, as well as dinners for team officials when they make their site visits to San Francisco in early December. Our thanks to Il Fornaio President/COO Mike Beatrice and Sr. VP of Marketing Mike Mindel for their support.