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Day of rest

Getting through a New Year's with no bowl games

Posted: Saturday December 31, 2005 8:56PM; Updated: Saturday December 31, 2005 9:27PM
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Holly Rowe; Bruce Gradkowski
ESPN's Holly Rowe (left) has been everywhere this bowl season.
Al Tielemans/SI
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"All is quiet on New Year's Day..."
-- U2, New Year's Day, 1983

That Bono. Time's Man of the Year and college football fan?

For only the second day in the last 11 (the other being Christmas) the sport goes dark. It's not that college football is observing the Jan. 1 holiday as it did in 1989, the last day, according to my admittedly cursory research, that no college bowl games were played on the day so closely associated with such games. Instead, college football is paying homage to the NFL, whose final Sunday of the season is today.

In other words, it will still be a Sunday, bloody Sunday.

But for us college football fans consider New Year's Day your bowl season intermission. And I am here, comfortably nestled in the Phoenix area, to help you relax. First we'll take a look back at some of the "Did I really just see that?" moments of the past 11 days and then I'll do some serious positing on the Fiesta Bowl.

Here, then, some insights from the town that brought you the Insight Bowl. And, when you are done reading, feel free to e-mail with any observations of the bizarre or surreal that I missed:

• Sideline reporter Holly Rowe is ESPN's answer to department store Santas. I'm convinced there must be more than one Holly Rowe, judging from all the sidelines she's roamed since winter officially began. If you're keeping score, Rowe will have worked four games (GMAC Bowl, Mobile, Ala.; Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando.; Capital One Bowl, also in Orlando; and Rose Bowl, Pasadena) during the bowl season. I would like to see her marry Elijah Wood, the star of The Lord of The Rings films so that her official title would be Holly Wood bowl reporter.

• GMAC Bowl. This is so cool. Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski jogs down to the end zone to wish his injured teammate, who was being carried off on a stretcher, good luck.

• Las Vegas Bowl. Did sideline reporter Alex Flanagan just tell us that Brigham Young cornerback Chris Hale played all 12 games as a freshman for the Cougars in '99? I checked. She's right (two years on a mission, then he returned and redshirted). College. The best seven years of your life.

• Hawaii Bowl. Suzy Schuster is standing on the sideline practically touching the knee of an injured Nevada punt returner as he sits upright on the bench. She's describing the injury and I can only imagine what's going through his mind. What's going through mine? Thank God it's not a groin pull.

• Champs Sports Bowl. Colorado punter John Torp is the man. Torp's first three punts average more than 60 yards and are a big reason the Buffs, seriously outmanned against Clemson, trailed just 6-3 at halftime.

Tiger coach Tommy Bowden, facing fourth-and-one at about the two-yard line with the score tied 3-3 in the second quarter (and with Colorado showing a talent for going backward on offense), elects to kick a field goal instead of going for it. As the ball sails through the uprights, my dad says, "That's why people travel to bowl games."

The ubiquitous Miss Rowe interviews Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who says that he's in Orlando to watch his seven-year-old son's football game. "Right now," Lewis says, "he reminds me of a cross between Gale Sayers and Reggie Bush."

• MPC Computers Bowl: Boise State's Quinton Jones fields a punt at about his three-yard line midway through the fourth quarter with the Broncos trailing Boston College 27-14. Jones is tackled immediately and you wonder why he did that. A few minutes later, Jones fields a punt on his own eight and takes it 92 yards for a score. Oh, that's why he did that.

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