Dear Friends of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,
We took our first scouting trip of the year last weekend and caught the Navy-San Jose State game in Annapolis. It was a good chance to see two teams that could end up in our Bowl on Dec. 29 opposite the Pac-12.
As you know, we will invite Navy to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl if the Midshipmen reach the six wins needed to qualify for post-season eligibility. If they don't, we have backup agreements in place with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference (of which San Jose State is a member).
Before the game we had a chance to visit with Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk and his wife, Kathy, two of my favorite people in college athletics. After the game, we hitched a ride home to California on the San Jose State charter. The game ended at 7 p.m. (Eastern), we took off from BWI around 10 o'clock and, after a fuel stop in Wichita, landed in Oakland at 1:30 and bussed to the San Jose State campus. I got home a little after 3 a.m. I've traveled on a lot of team charters in my time, and it's always more fun to fly home with a winning team. The victorious Spartans were in a good mood and the long flight was very enjoyable. My thanks to Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier, head coach Mike MacIntyre and SID Lawrence Fan for letting me tag along. Thanks also to Athletic Department administrators Marie Tuite, John Poch, Tod Bannister and Darren Coehlo for their warm hospitality.
Last week's games: San Jose State 12, Navy 0. It was a disappointing home loss for Navy and a huge road win for San Jose State, which has won four straight after a hard-fought, season-opening 20-17 loss to Stanford. Navy made a strong defensive showing--holding a team that had scored 78 points in its last two games to four field goals--but continued to struggle offensively. Quarterback Trey Miller fumbled at the SJS 7-yard line on the opening drive, and after that the Mids were held in check.
The Pac-12 continues to impress. After last weekend's games, the conference boasts six teams in the AP Top 25 and two others knocking on the door. No. 2 Oregon pulled away from Washington State in the second half, while No. 14 Oregon State outlasted Arizona in a shootout, 38-35. No. 18 Stanford was upset in Seattle, 17-13, by No. 23 Washington, as the Huskies scored two long fourth quarter touchdowns. No. 25 UCLA cuffed Colorado, while No. 13 USC was idle. Both Arizona State, which defeated Cal in Berkeley, and Arizona received votes.
In terms of bowl eligibility, the Pac-12 is looking good with two undefeated teams (Oregon and Oregon State) and five teams with just one loss (USC, UCLA, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State).
This week: As usual, there are several key matchups in the Pac-12. On Thursday night, USC meets Utah in Salt Lake City, where the Utes are always tough. Two teams looking to rebound--Stanford and Arizona--hook up in Palo Alto, while slumping Cal tries to get back on track at home against surprising UCLA. The conference's (and perhaps the nation's) biggest surprise team, Oregon State, is at home vs. Washington State, while Washington hopes to pull off another upset in Eugene against the unbeaten Ducks.
Navy travels to Colorado Springs this week to face Air Force. The Falcons took away the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy last year and the Midshipmen are eager to get it back. Based on my visit last week, I know they're also eager to play in San Francisco on Dec. 29. A win Saturday over Air Force would improve their chances considerably, as six straight winnable games follow.
Off the field: This is our third year as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and we are once again proud to have Kraft as our title sponsor and proud to be associated with their initiatives to fight hunger in this country. In 2010 and '11, Kraft's "Huddle to Fight Hunger" campaign donated over 45 million meals to Feeding America, a national network of over 200 food banks. This year, we will continue our efforts to feed the hungry and call attention to this important issue. The Bowl will again donate one meal for every ticket sold to our game to three iconic social service agencies in San Francisco--Glide Memorial Church, St. Anthony's Dining Room and the San Francisco Food Bank. To date, the Bowl has contributed over 200,000 meals to help needy families in the Bay Area. Kraft was in the news earlier this week as it officially became two publicly traded companies--one called Kraft Foods Group, consisting of the North American grocery business, and the other called Mondelez International, consisting of global snack food brands. Our thanks to Stephen Chriss, Senior Director of Marketing Partnerships, for his ongoing support.