College bowl season is nearly upon us, and as such we will all be treated to approximately fifteen months of bowl games starting this Saturday. I personally love college football, but unfortunately most of my friends don't happen to share my same passion for the sport. Regardless, I've still dragged them to various bars around the city to indulge in my favorite pastime this Fall. A few weeks ago, I was watching the Texas game with one of my non-football savvy friends and he began to tell me how he had begun watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix and loved the show. Having followed the show since it first began airing, I shared his interest, and we talked FNL (which is what those in the know call Friday Night Lights, probably) in length before I noticed that Texas had switched out their quarterback, causing me to shriek with excitement and anticipation. My friend looked at me with confusion, and that's when a lightbulb went off on my head.
I explained that the quarterback Texas had in was Case McCoy, who was like Matt Saracen in that he wasn't that physically talented but had a lot of heart and tried really hard. Then I told him I was excited because they had just replaced Case McCoy with David Ash, who for our purposes was J.D. McCoy, the talented yet unproven freshman phenom for the Dillon Panthers.
Since then I've made a habit of making Friday Night Lights parallels whenever I'm watching a football game with someone uninitiated with the sport, and for the most part, its made the game watching experience more fun for both of us. In that spirit, I decided to undertake a side project this bowl season: To break down all 34 bowls games based on plot lines from Friday Night Lights. I plan to pull references from all five seasons, so if you haven't finished watching it, stop whatever you're doing, and just go do that because it's an amazing show.
To get the full Friday Night Lights experience this bowl season, try watching these games on mute, turning on an "Explosions in the Sky" album, and shaking your head slightly while you watch (to mimic the camerawork on the show) as you keep these comparisons in mind:
Gildan New Mexico Bowl, December 17th, 2 PM, ESPN
Temple vs. Wyoming
I think the best comparison to Temple's football team is Landry's band "Crucifictorious." Like Crucifictorious, Temple is largely taken for granted by people in the college football world. But if you actually take the time to watch them play, there's some discernible talent on the team. But the problem is that nobody in Philadelphia (where the school is located), Dillon and probably New Mexico is going to have much interest in giving them a chance to win their hearts over. Their opponents are Wyoming. Wyoming's mascot are the Cowboys. Remember when Tyra impulsively ran off with that Rodeo Cowboy in the middle of the school year. That was silly. How'd she get into college again?
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, December 17th, 5:30 PM, ESPN
Ohio vs. Utah State
Utah State began the season led by a phenomenal quarterback in Chuckie Keeton but Keeton suffered a neck injury and had to be replaced by little used backup Adam Kennedy, who brought the team back to win the game, and has led them to five wins in a row. Anyone who has watched the pilot episode of Friday Night Lights can see the parallel here so I won't go any further. Fortunately, Keeton's neck injury was not close to as serious as Jason Street's, so he did not have to go to Mexico with one of his teammates to try out an illegal experimental surgery. Utah State has had a ridiculous amount of close games this season, with nine of their contests being decided by a touchdown or less. Very Lionsesque.
Their opponents are Ohio University, who was leading in their conference championship game by 20 points before the other team came back to beat them through a series of improbable events. So essentially, they're a good microcosm of every team the East Dillon Lions have ever managed to defeat.
Expect a last second miracle heave that results in an unlikely touchdown that brings the team together and reminds us all of the power of love, friendship and the American dream.
R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, December 17th, 9:00 PM, ESPN
San Diego State vs. Louisiana-LaFayette
If you happened to just love that plot line in season 2 when Landry joins the team and for some reason is a capable tight end, boy is this the game for you. Gavin Escobar for San Diego State and Ladarius Green for Louisiana-LaFayette are two of the best tight ends in the nation and should be Landry-ing all day in said roles. Beyond that, Lafayette is a small town and Dillon is a small town, so... there's that.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, December 20th, 2011, 8:00 PM, ESPN
Marshall vs. Florida International
This game -- from its name, to the night it's being played (college football on a Tuesday?), to the teams involved -- will likely be the worst of the bowl season. As such, the only real apt comparison is to the worst plot line in the history of Friday Night Lights, and arguably television history, which of course is when Landry killed a guy. Like many of the horrid plot lines that came up during season 2 when the writer's strike was underway, the fact that Landry killed a guy was quickly brushed under the rug and never talked about again in the upcoming seasons. The idea was so bizarre that my friends and I began using it as an expression for something we find confusing or bad.
Friend 1: Can you help me answer this Calculus problem, it's really 'Landry killing a guy'ing me right now.
Friend 2: Don't ask me, I was a communications major. I hate math more than that terrible plot concept where Landry kills a guy.
So in essence, if you were into the whole Landry killing a guy thing, watch this football game. Otherwise, it should be Landry killing a guy.
San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, December 21st, 2011, 8:00 PM, ESPN
TCU vs. Louisiana Tech
If you're into syllables, you're going to absolutely love the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. For the football inclined, this should be a pretty good game as both teams involved won their respective conferences. From a Friday Night Lights perspective, TCU has a whole lot of Dillon-style mentality going for it. It's a school obsessed with Texas football that perennially wins regardless of the players they plug in. TCU running back Ed Wesley has a tough Tim Riggins running-style about him that makes him one of the best in the nation. But by all indications he's not an alcoholic and hasn't served prison time, so it appears Wesley's running-style is the only thing he has in common with Riggins.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, December 22nd, 2011, 8:00 PM, ESPN
Boise State vs. Arizona State
Boise State is a big time football program that is based in a small town. Their quarterback, Kellen Moore, took over the team as a freshman with a lot of pressure to succeed. Although he may not be the biggest or the strongest or the most talented, he has made up for it with his football smarts and big heart. Now, four years later, he is a senior and the winningest quarterback in college football history. Also, he might be into art, who knows. It's unlikely that he has a future at the next level because of his physical limitations, so this will likely will be your last chance to watch him play football. MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, I dub thee "The Matt Saracen Bowl."
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, December 24th, 2011, 8:00 PM, ESPN
Nevada vs. Southern Mississippi
One of the most enduring shots of the entire series is when Coach Taylor and Tami are shown sharing an embrace on the woefully unkempt field of the East Dillon Lions at the conclusion of the third season. That field is like the Rose Bowl compared to Aloha Stadium, where the Hawaii bowl is played. It's been described as the worst game day atmosphere in college football, and fans have a fun tradition of throwing trash on the field. All in all, you aren't going to get much closer to watching an East Dillon Lions home game this bowl season than tuning into the Hawaii Bowl, so die hard fans should put this game on in the background on Christmas Eve.
And with that you should be set for the first week of bowl games.
I'm planning on writing a new breakdown every week until the bowl season is extinguished so if this happened to entertain you, be sure to check back next week for another post.
Until then: Clear eyes, full hearts...