Making an appearance in the How Did We Convince the FBS That We Deserve a Bowl Appearance Bowl are the Fighting Illini of Illinois, and Westwood’s own UCLA Bruins.
The game is really called the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, but its new name is more appropriate.
Seriously though, neither of these teams really has any business playing in a bowl game. Illinois made history this year; being the first FBS team ever to lose six consecutive games after opening with six consecutive wins. Not to be outdone, UCLA made history when they became the first team in over a decade to play in the post-season with a losing record.
Needless to say, the members of Trojan Nation are certainly enjoying the mockery that the Bruins are making of themselves.
With such poor performances, both Illinois and UCLA fired their head coaches. UCLA replaced Rick Neuheisel with Jim Mora Jr., and Illinois replaced Ron Zook with Tim Beckman, but neither the old nor the new coaches will coach in this bowl. Instead, two interim coaches will fill the role to close out the season.
So yeah, the answer is “no”: there is absolutely no reason to watch this bowl game.
Unless of course, you are like me and want to see UCLA and tangentially Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott fail publicly one more time.
Because Scott refused to allow USC to play in the inaugural Pac-12 game, the nation had to suffer through a pointless Oregon/UCLA match up. Obviously, the Ducks won, but Neuheisel just wouldn’t give up there. He applied for consideration for a bowl berth—with a 6-7 LOSING record—and for some reason unfathomable to everyone, his request was granted.
So now, UCLA gets to show the world once again why there is only one U in LA that matters. And it certainly isn’t the one in Westwood.
I could go over both teams strengths and weaknesses. I could go over their successes this season, and the keys to either team winning.
I could, but I won’t.
Let’s face it: no one west of Illinois cares about Illinois, and no one reading this blog cares about UCLA. What we do care about though, is the implications that will arise should UCLA lose this game, which is entirely plausible.
If the Bruins fail, then it will make Larry Scott look terrible. This is the same UCLA team that got shutout in the last game of the regular season 50-0 by the Trojans. And since it’s obvious that Larry Scott hates all things cardinal and gold, and UCLA loss will only further cement the fact that there is only one team in the Pac-12 South that matters, whether he likes it or not. He even said that he was “disappointed” that USC couldn’t play in the Pac-12 title game, which is funny because HE was the one who decided that in the first place! So if/when UCLA loses in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, every member of Trojan Nation will readily point and laugh at all of Westwood for EVER thinking that the monopoly in LA was over, and at Larry Scott for thinking that he could kick the Trojans when they were down.
And because karma is a you-know-what, the Pac-12 is currently 0-3 in bowl games. Somewhere, Larry Scott is kicking himself.
Normally this is the point of the post where I put a prediction and a deciding factor, but in researching this game I ran into a problem: there are 0 impact players on either side of the ball. Sure, they’ve got players that have put up decent numbers despite their teams being horrendous, but at the point where the squads were so unfathomably bad that their own athletic directors were willing to scrap the rest of the season by firing their coach halfway through, there’s nothing compelling about the game or the programs. At all. Honestly I have no idea who’s going to win this game, because I can’t even begin to predict who’s going to come out and butcher their game plan harder.
Yes folks, it is that serious.
So who will win? I dunno, flip a coin.
I’m not kidding.
In fact, I will even do so for this post. The coin says Illinois, though I welcome you to do the same, because hopefully you’ll wake up the next morning and discover that this abysmal excuse for a bowl game was just a nightmare pulled from the depths of Tim Burton’s subconscious. Sorry, calling it like I see it.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl kicks off Saturday Dec. 31st at 12:30 Pacific Time. If you’re going to tune into this game, it should solely be to verify that by the time 2012 rolls around, USC will without question be the best team in LA, in the Pac-12 South, and one of the best in the country.