LOCALE: Little Caesars delivers the nicest house on the block.
You don't have to cheer, you know. Just enjoy the game at your own pace and if you feel compelled to get a little rowdy, well, then, it's appreciated — as long you maintain your enthusiasm within designated zones and appropriate levels of exuberance, so as to not impede other patrons' enjoyment of piped-in Josh Groban during timeouts. But seriously, man, no pressure.
TRADITION: The Independence Bowl has come a long way, baby.
Little Caesars and Belk are new title sponsors for bowls that have been in existence for at least a decade. Can anyone remember the old names that belonged the same games? Yeah, I didn't think so.* By comparison, the Independence Bowl is a beacon of stability: With 36 years under its belt, it's the 11th-oldest game on the postseason slate. We been overcoming embarrassing corporate sponsorships since before you were born, son.
It wasn't always that bad, before the glut of bowl games over the last decade pushed the Independence further down the food chain. In fact, from 1991-2000, the winner of the Independence Bowl finished in the top 25 eight times, capped by Mississippi State after its overtime comeback over Texas A&M in a New Year's Eve blizzard in 2000. Whatever else happens, Shreveport, you'll always have the Snow Bowl.
SWAG: Belk gives the gift of Belk.
In the meantime, are Purdue and Western Michigan players allowed to trade in their commemorative Pizza Bowl football for a coupon for Free Crazy Bread®?
SPONSORS, PARADES AND OTHER AMBIANCE: A Car Care Bowl divided against itself cannot stand.
But that game is the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, which bears no relation to its former cousin back East. The original Meineke Car Care Bowl, which pitted an ACC team against a Big East foe in its hometown every year since 2004, has been rechristened as the Belk Bowl. The new Meineke Car Care Bowl assumes the history and records of the former Texas Bowl, a Houston institution since 2006 — which is not to be confused with its predecessor, the Houston Bowl, which began life in 2000 as the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl and fizzled out in 2005.
Confused? Obviously. Maybe this map will help:
All hail the sanctity, dignity and tradition of the bowl system.
THIS YEAR'S MATCHUP: N.C. State and Louisville are happy to be here. Man, they're happy to be anywhere.
From that point, the Cardinals rallied to take five of their last six, including wins over bowl-bound Rutgers and West Virginia to secure a share of the Big East title, while N.C. State upset Virginia and North Carolina, destroyed Clemson and roared out of a 41-14 hole against Maryland with 42 unanswered points in the season finale. The Wolfpack had to win that game to get into a bowl, and possibly to save Tom O'Brien's job. You might even say they're two young teams on the fast track to brighter futures, if you were paid to do so and have no shame.
STAR POWER: More untapped Tar Heel potential.
- - -
* The Little Caesars Bowl was known as the Motor City Bowl until last year, due to the collapse of the "Big Three" domestic auto companies that sponsored it; and before its previous incarnation as the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Belk Bowl began life in 2002 as the Continental Tire Bowl.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/American Football
- Meineke Car Care Bowl
- Independence Bowl
- Little Caesars