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Holiday Bowl Preview, Part 1: Setting The Stage

I'm most of the way through this preview and it's clear it'll be far too long to be useful in one post. So... Merry Christmas, BONers - we'll start the previewing now with Part 1 of the Holiday Bowl Preview. I'm not sure yet whether the matchup breakdown will appear in one more post, or two. Either way, the full thing will be up by Wednesday morning.

About the Holiday Bowl

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Holiday Bowl, the first game having been played on December 22, 1978. The bowl was originally created to highlight the WAC, whose champion received an automatic bid every year from the bowl's inception through 1994. In 1995, the bowl began to diversify its participants, reaching an agreement with the Cotton Bowl, Pac-10, Big 12, and WAC. The Pac-10 runner-up or WAC champ would play in the either the Holiday or Cotton Bowl, while the Big 12 third selection would play in the Holiday Bowl. After the WAC disbanded in 1997, the Holiday Bowl reached a deal with the Pac-10 and Big 12; in its current form, the Pac-10 runner up is auto-assigned to the Holiday Bowl while the bowl gets to choose third (behind Fiesta and Cotton) a Big 12 team.


Texas in the Holday Bowl

The 2007 Holiday Bowl will feature Texas for the fourth time in the game's history. The 'Horns first visited San Diego in 2000, losing to Oregon 35-30. A year later, after the Disaster In Dallas, Texas beat Washington 47-43 in Major Applewhite's final game as a Longhorn. Two years later, the 'Horns returned to the Holiday Bowl for a third time, losing 28-20 to Washington State.

I attended all three Holiday Bowl games, so though this is new territory for most of the players on the current roster, it's familiar ground for both the Texas coaches and me. Despite the appearance meaning that Texas has had a relatively disappointing regular season, it's a delightful postseason destination. San Diego is a terrific city any time of year, but particularly as a winter escape. The game itself features the runner-up from a premier conference (the Pac-10), guaranteeing an opponent worth preparing for and playing.

The stadium is nice enough, the atmosphere is fun, and tickets are available on game day. Aside from the duck quacking doohickeys that Oregon fans bring to games, I have no complaints about the Holiday Bowl at all. Those of you who plan to attend will enjoy yourselves.

(Note: Arizona State has never appeared in the Holiday Bowl one time, losing 34-27 to Kansas State in 2002.)

Arizona State Season Recap

Arizona State started the season 8-0 by beating San Jose State, Colorado, San Diego State, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington State, and California by an average score of 37-16. When the BCS Standings after their win over Cal were released, the Sun Devils found themselves ranked 4th in the nation - 6th in each of the human polls, tied for 2nd among the computers. The national title dreams took a huge hit the following week in Eugene, however, as Arizona State was soundly defeated by Dennis Dixon and Oregon, 35-23. Though ASU would win at UCLA a week later, they officially lost their national and conference championship hopes on Thanksgiving day when USC thumped Arizona State 44-24 in Tempe.

After the Sun Devils beat Arizona to close out their season, many thought 10-2 Arizona State had a strong shot at a BCS Bowl. In retrospect, no team's BCS dreams were hurt more by Hawaii's perfect Sugar Bowl sesason. Kansas and Georgia were selected ahead of ASU, relegating the Sun Devils to the Holiday Bowl, to face...

Texas Season Recap

Hell, we were all there... Must we really do this?

We must. But! Let's get creative... Rather than recap a season you already lived through, let's try something more fun: Let's walk through the 2007 season like we're looking back on a relationship, instead of a football team. (Oh, come on - don't object. You know you gave more of yourself to the team than any significant other, anyway.)

August - "I got this girl's number at a bar after I'd had a bit to drink, so I'm not totally sure about all this. I think I'm really pumped about this, but I have concerns. I remember a smoking hot body, but I'm not sure if she's actually, you know, pretty. Or put together. Was she intelligent or engaging? At this point: who cares! I've been starved for a date!"

Arkansas State - "So I called her, and we went out for the first time. She's not a head-to-toe knockout, and there are some obvious flaws. Answering the cell phone during dinner was a big red flag, but... we made out, and damnit, I was just happy to be out with a hot girl. I'm totally not worried about her flaws her right now. I'm calling her again."

She's a fickle mistress...
TCU- "The first half of the date? Was atrocious. I just about walked out right in the middle of the damn thing. But once we'd had a couple drinks and she loosened up, we had a blast. The last part of the date hooked me. Whatever my long-term feelings about this girl - right now, I'm happy."

UCF - "So we went out again and though there were some bumps along the way (her ex-boyfriend is a California douche who either does steroids, calls everyone 'bro', or gels his hair - or all three), it ended well. We actually hooked up and it was damn fun. We're just starting the dating game, anyway. No need to be too critical at this point, right?"

Rice - "She booty called me. And rocked my world. It was easy; it was fun. I can't actually complain about this, can I?"

Kansas State - "WHORE! So after the booty call I invite her over to my place, set up a nice intimate evening, have things all planned out, and the evil bitch never shows up. I should be through with her altogether, but she phones with this irresistible apology and promises me a special weekend in Dallas a week later. Fine. Whatever."

Oklahoma - "God she's lucky the sex is good... Because everything else about the weekend sucked."

Iowa State - "Ok, the sex is really good."

Baylor - "I'm at the point where I wonder whether I should put up with all the things I dislike about this woman. She's flaky, not particularly bright, and happy to settle for mediocrity with things I value. Still, the sex is... okay, I may have a problem."

Nebraska - "We spend all week fighting, have a godawful night out on the town, and as I take her home, I'm all set to break up with her. But she preempts me, pulls me inside her front door, and rocks my world right there in her foyer. How can I say no to this?"

Oklahoma State - "I swear to God, I came this close to telling her never to call me again. It was a repeat of last week, but I'm a sucker for hot women in small dresses. So I stuck it out, and at the end of our date she absolutely blows my mind with... well, let's just say that I'm pretty sure she can breathe through her ears."

Texas Tech - "You know what? I think I've been looking at this the wrong way. I've been evaluating this woman as a life partner when I should have just been thinking about how much fun she is to play with. Damnit - I'm officially changing my mindset: I like this girl. Flaws and all."

Texas A&M - "Motherf*cker. She hates football, loves Bon Jovi, and I found out she's willing to blow a guy for coke. The tits? Turns out they're fake. And the last time we hooked up? She called me 'Aiden.' When I objected, she apologized with, "Sorry, Dominic." Bottom line: the sex has been too good for me to hate her, but... I hate her."