…that Penn State will face the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on January 1? Kickoff is at 1 pm, which is fortunately two hours later than the old 11 am kickoff of past years. Both teams were mediocre this year, sporting 7-5 records.
Yes, yes. Of course, you all know that by now. My purpose here is to be last on the scene, reporting news you already knew, but with an appropriately turkeyesque slant on it.
The Gators are obviously not Tim Tebow’s Gators, and the Lions are obviously not John Shaffer’s Lions. Hell, they’re not even Danny Wuerffel’s Gators and Darryl Clark’s Lions. So all bets are off.
Nevertheless, the Gators come into this game favored by a touchdown. Figures! Penn State tends to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the NCAA. We ain’t ever gonna get no respect, I tellya.
I’ll be taking a look at this game as the next three weeks roll by, so don’t rush me. For now, a couple of anecdotes to keep you occupied while you’re deciding whether to click on my Google AdSense ads that have enriched the Turkey’s coffers by a grand total of $13.74. (And Google won’t cut me a check until it gets up to $100.)
First, you might or might not know that this Turkey lives in Central Florida, in a suburb of Orlando. That makes it easy for me to get to Florida bowl games, so I’ve been to quite a few. However, for whatever reason, I haven’t been to one of the Nittany Lions’ January 1 appearances here for quite a while. Missed the last Outback, Orange, and Capital One (nee Citrus).
The last Outback Bowl I attended was in 1999. I had pneumonia. Funny thing, I have pneumonia now. Don’t know how I got it this time, but back then I was commuting from Orlando to L.A., and I had thrown in a pre-New Year’s trip to England. By the time I got to Tampa, I was full of damn airplane germs. That didn’t stop the Nittany Lions, though, as they whipped a Tim Couch led overperforming bunch of Kentucky Wildcats 26-14. I went home to Orlando, called my client in L.A., and spent the next week in bed.
Prior to that, I had attended the 1996 edition with a lady friend who would get quite inebriated. She was an alumna of both Auburn (our opponent that day) and Alabama; we, of course, were seated smack dab in the middle of the Penn State section. As Ms. Auburn became quite loud during the game yelling for Auburn, I couldn’t control her mouth and I had to defuse a potential incident with the guys in front of us, who were annoyed as hell with her yelling and screaming. “She can cheer for whoever the hell she wants to cheer for!” I bravely asserted, tensing for the right haymaker that never came. “Yes, she can,” said one of the guys in front. You see, we’re Penn State fans and we’re polite. I was very happy when Ms. Auburn left to visit her son, an Auburn student who was sitting in the end zone way over there. She eventually returned, the long foot journey having sobered her up somewhat. However, that didn’t prevent her from spilling almost a full bottle of champagne in my Nissan Maxima after the game. By the way, Penn State beat Auburn 43-14.
The most recent occasion on which I attended a Penn State vs. Florida game was the 1998 Citrus Bowl, now called the Capital One Bowl. The Central Florida Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association had a nice pre-game tailgate set up in one of the fields close to the stadium. I brought my neighbor, Marcos, with me to this interesting game and its pre-game festivities. His wife, Mary, prepared some chicken and some other goodies. In anticipation of the copious quantities of bloody mary mix provided by the chapter, I brought two bottles of Absolut Peppar vodka. Man, those bloody marys were good! Before I knew it, one bottle of vodka was done and the other one was half full. I think it was I who drank most of it. Everyone else was drinking beer. Well, booze has a delayed effect on me, so when it was close to game time, we headed for our seats. I promptly sat down and fell asleep. I briefly woke up at halftime when my roommate of the time, Keri, and her friend Susanne were getting up to leave so they could watch Susanne’s Wolverines in the Rose Bowl. I recall goosing each of them as they squeezed by my seat. Then, I fell asleep again.
That was the game for which Joe Jurevicius and Curtis Enis were suspended, so we didn’t do too well. In fact, neither did I. I vaguely remember the game ending and Marcos getting up to leave. I got up a bit unsteadily, took a step or two out into the aisle, and then my rubber joints gave way. I careened down about fifteen steps and crashed into the back of the exit ramp. Fortunately, I had overslept and our section had mostly emptied out by then. I was also fortunate that I was as loose as a rubber goose. Didn’t even have a bruise on me. Again quite fortunately, as it is not always the case, Marcos was relatively sober and able to drive. However, I recall that when we got out into the field where the tailgate had been, he found a chair to sit me down in for a while, I don’t remember how long, before he deemed me safe to be driven home. When I eventually sobered up, Keri described me as being as drunk as she’d ever seen a person—and she’s Irish.
Oh, the game. Well, as I said, we didn’t do too well. The Gators whipped the Nittany Lions 21-6.
I hope my stories have either entertained or disgusted you. Stay tuned for some further words about the forthcoming Outback Bowl as the month of December stretches on.