Race : Toronto to host 1st bowl outside U.S. since Cuba in 1937
For the first time in 70 years, a college football bowl game between American teams will be held outside the United States. However, much has changed in 70 years and college football officials wisely chose not to return to the previous bowl’s site-Cuba. Instead, bowl participants elected to travel north of the border to North America’s fifth largest city, Toronto.
Toronto will host the inaugural International Bowl on January 6 at the Rogers Centre, formerly the SkyDome.
The International Bowl, which matches the Mid-American Conference against the Big East, will be the first bowl held outside the United States since 1937 when Auburn tied Villanova 7-7 in the Barcardi Bowl in Havana.
The Rogers Centre, which can seat 55,000, hosts Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, which in November 2007 will host the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League’s championship game. Nonetheless, a bowl game brings an entirely different event to Canada and as a result will provide an opportunity for a new audience to experience Toronto.
Don Loding, director of operations for the bowl, believes the game’s location will give rise to an event that fans and teams will want to attend not just for football, but also for a chance to visit an ‘absolutely remarkable’ place with a great deal of culture.
‘That’s what we intend to build, that’s what we intend to create,’ Loding said. ‘To create awareness of Toronto and what a great city it is.’
Loding said one of the crucial factors in choosing Toronto was that it is an international destination with much more to offer game attendees than the typical city.
Duncan Ross, the executive director of tourism for Toronto, is excited about bringing a bowl to the city of over five million citizens.
Aside from the typical economic benefits, Ross thinks having a bowl game outside of the United States is significant for a future in which travel rules are stricter, yet connecting with the global community is emphasized.
Ross hopes showcasing an American bowl game in a foreign country will encourage more Americans to obtain a passport and travel, especially since Ross said only about one-fifth of Americans have a passport.
‘It’s an opportunity to have global citizenship development,’ Ross said. ‘It’s a nice feeling to know the fact Toronto has so much to offer. It’s one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. People here come from over 200 different countries and speak hundreds of languages.’
The citizens of Toronto are eager to host a bowl, too. There are already deals with local media to promote and cover the bowl game. Furthermore, the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts will market itself to American fans who attend the bowl.
Ross said Toronto has wanted a bowl for years and he hopes this initial year will build a foundation for a great bowl tradition in Canada
Ross said the date of the game is strategic for the foundation but not to expect Americans alone to fill the stadium since the Canadian football schedule ends in November and Canadians are always hungry for more football.
Loding and Ross also agree the date is ideal for Americans looking for an activity after the winter holiday season ends, and the bowl is shaping up to be the trendiest place for sports fans to be during the first weekend of the New Year.
‘(We’ve) been trying to get an NCAA bowl game for Toronto,’ Ross said. ‘We’re really happy the events going to be taking place this year. We feel we’ve got an ideal slot on the Saturday leading into the NFL wild card games. It’s a perfect time for an after Christmas getaway weekend.’
No. 2 Florida (+2.5) at No. 11 Auburn
Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
The Gators’ next two games don’t look so overwhelming now that Auburn and Georgia both suffered their first losses of the season last week. But the Tigers should be fuming about its loss and UF holds The Associated Press ranking previously held by Auburn. However, a fourth quarter trick play tames the Tigers’ rage.
Pick: Florida 21, Auburn 20
No. 4 Michigan (-7) at Penn State
Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC
Last year, the Nittany Lions fell to Michigan on the final play of the game, dashing PSU’s title hopes. Penn State has an opportunity for vengeance Saturday when UM visits Happy Valley. However, the shouts of 100,000 fans can’t deter a Wolverine attack.
Pick: Michigan 35, Penn State 17
Baylor (+28.5) at No. 6 Texas
Saturday, 7 p.m., TBS
Only Texas and Baylor are undefeated in the Big 12 South. The teams will put their 2-0 conference records on the line in Austin. During last season’s championship run, the Longhorns achieved their only shutout with a 62-0 win over the Bears in Waco. Baylor takes its shot at revenge. And fails.
Pick: Texas 61, Baylor 0
No. 24 Rutgers (+1.5) at Navy
Saturday, 1:30 p.m., CSTV
The Big East is the only conference with multiple undefeated teams. However, two of the three unbeatens, Rutgers and West Virginia, have been feasting on cupcake opponents since the season began. The Naval Academy provides the Scarlet Knights with its first real challenge, and RU is unprepared.
Pick: Navy 37, Rutgers 28
Syracuse (+25) at No.5 West Virginia
Saturday, noon, MSG/ESPN Regional
Greg Robinson began his head coaching career with a near upset of WVU in the Dome last year. Although it wouldn’t have been considered an upset, since West Virginia was still learning its personnel early last season. The Orange hopes to keep it close in Morgantown this year, but SU’s inability to stop the run results in the Mountaineers slicing and dicing the Orange.
Pick: West Virginia 35, Syracuse 13
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