The 2012 Gator Bowl is just hours away. We’re sure you have so many questions. We’re here to help. (For an X's and O's breakdown, click through to Stewart Mandel's game preview.)
• What's all this, then? The Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl is one of only two current college football postseason contests named after a dot-com. Once sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, it is not the Outback Bowl. What an awkward and weird name to append to an old and proud postseason contest. Nonsense. What's mightier than an alligator, except an alligator that can find you deductions on your return?
• Where will this game be played? Jacksonville's EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail party game.
• When is it on television? Coverage begins at noon ET on ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen, Danny Kanell and Allison Williams. The game will also be streamed on WatchESPN.
• Whom does it feature? SEC versus Big Ten.
• What about this year? Having the 9-3 Northwestern Wildcats and the 8-4 Mississippi State Bulldogs occupying the same bit of real estate has made for some memorable cross-cultural encounters this week:
"Hey! How are you? Looking forward to the game?""CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA""I see."
— Tom McGrath (@TCMcG) December 31, 2012
• Does the bowl have a social media presence? One dedicated to connecting you with your favorite left-turn enthusiast and Wranglers endorser:
ASK DALE JR: We'll ask up to 10 questions to Dale Jr. during the Budweiser Tailgate Party. Just mention @gator_bowl to make sure we see it.
— Gator Bowl (@Gator_Bowl) December 30, 2012
• What shiny baubles will be showered on the players? We're not players, we just hat a lot.
• What's the pick? Stewart Mandel forecasts a snapped curse: "The closest Northwestern came to snapping its nine-game bowl losing streak (its last win came in 1949) was in the 2010 Outback Bowl against Auburn, when kicker Stefan Demos missed a 44-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Three years later, the reliable Jeff Budzien (17-of-18) will cap a shootout by avenging Demos and ending 64 years of Wildcat heartbreak."
• Please impart any miscellaneous knowledge you might have concerning the 2012 Gator Bowl. Its president is a BIIIIIIG DANG PROFITEROLE-HATER.
“The [university] presidents and athletic directors need to wake up about these [non-automatic qualifying] conferences and understand that they don’t have the fan appeal,” said Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett. “If they don’t have the fan appeal when they play in a bowl game, the nonprofit operator in the bowl game will lose money. Period, end of story. It’s not what the bowls want, it’s not what the fans want and it’s not what TV wants.”Mandel pointed out that at the time of Catlett's tirade, one could obtain SEC-versus-Big-Ten Gator Bowl tickets for $2.50. At the time of this writing, tickets for the Gator Bowl are available for purchase for as low as $1.20 online.