Sports With Shook: Your guide to going bowling

Nick Shook

With a victory over Western Michigan on Homecoming, the Flashes improved to 6-1 overall, making them bowl eligible for the first time since 2006, when Kent State finished with a 6-6 record.

Kent State upped the ante last weekend when it traveled to the east coast and ruined No. 15 Rutgers’ homecoming with a 35-23 victory over the Scarlet Knights, Kent State’s first victory over a ranked opponent in the program’s history.

With a 7-1 record and a win over a previously undefeated Big East school, the Flashes have forced their way into the conscious of the national media, even if it did include a little kicking and screaming on the part of those members. National attention, combined with bowl eligibility, results in one rare, but enjoyable part of my week — checking the bowl projections.

These projections, handed down by’s Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards, vary by the week. It appears as though with each victory, the quality of bowl improves at least slightly.

I’m going to do my best impression of the Travelocity gnome, or William Shatner as the Priceline Negotiator, and break down the potential bowl sites to which I will travel in late December/early January. Hopefully Josh Cribbs sponsors another bus trip, because I’m not exactly wealthy.

3. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg

Date: Dec 21, 2012

Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Stadium capacity: 42,735 (without tarp-covered seats)

Projected opponent (week projected): Connecticut (Week 7)

This bowl is played in what was built primarily as a baseball stadium. The folks at Tropicana Field awkwardly configured the field to make it a football field. Proponents of the stadium and bowl like to refer to it as unique, boasting a Miller Lite Party Deck, “the only on-field hospitality village in all of college or professional football.” That’s marketing-speak for “we needed to do something with all of this extra field space.”

The keynote speaker at the Kickoff Luncheon is 1996 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (and subsequent NFL bust) Danny Wuerffel. So, there’s that.

If KSU ends up accepting an invite to this bowl, I won’t complain. I’ve always wanted to go to “The Trop” to see if it is just as bad as folks say, and I wouldn’t mind a valid excuse for a trip to Florida.

2. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Date: Dec 24, 2012, 3 p.m. HT

Location: Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Stadium capacity: 50,000

Projected opponent (week projected): Fresno State (Week 7)

Kent State is being considered for a bowl game in Hawaii, and you ask me, why on earth is this ranked second on this list?!

Cost is the reason why this is ranked second. Yes, we all would love to spend a week, or even just a few days in Honolulu, but for the large majority of college students nationwide (excluding those at Miami University, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Northwestern, and yes, even Michigan), it isn’t affordable. I don’t even expect Cribbs to sponsor a trip to Hawaii; he might need to spend the rest of his money from his deal with the Browns, which is in its final year, to pay for this trip. I’m not going to request he do that.

Now, if you’re one of KSU President Lester Lefton’s family members (or “friends of the university”), or you just so happen to be dating the daughter of the MAC Commissioner, you’ll probably make this trip. But for the other 99 percent of us, it’s unlikely.

As far as travel accommodations and attractions go, it’s Hawaii! Beaches are everywhere, everything looks like a postcard, and I’m sure you can find a few hula dancers or a man dancing with torches to occupy your time.

I’ll gladly cheer from home, but I’ll still have that salty taste in my mouth, knowing I missed out on a chance to go to just the second bowl game in Kent State football history, and the first in 40 years.

1. New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Date: Dec 29, 2012, 3:15 p.m.

Location: Yankee Stadium, New York, N.Y.

Stadium capacity: 54,251

Projected opponent (week projected): Baylor (Week 8)

Way back in the day, I’m talking from 1920 through the 1960s, Yankee Stadium was the premier home of major college and professional football showcases. The hallowed grounds inside “The House that Ruth Built” hosted the “Greatest Game Ever” between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants, and multiple collegiate showdowns between Notre Dame and Army, among others. But that structure was demolished in 2009.

The new Yankee Stadium is a palace. The New York Yankees and New Era quickly recognized its viability as a home of not only baseball, but also football, and thus, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl was created in 2010. The first game, between Syracuse and Kansas State, was a thriller in even chillier temperatures. Running back Delone Carter starred in the Orange’s 36-34 victory.

This game is the mecca of bowl game travel destinations for me. You are probably cursing me right now and calling me crazy, but let me explain. I love, absolutely LOVE cold-weather football games.

I’ve also never been to New York, and what better way to take in NYC for the first time than as a fan of the Golden Flashes? Plus, Yankee Stadium, new or old, is a bucket list site for any sports fan. Seeing a football game at the famous stadium only makes the trip better.

For those of you concerned with hotel, restaurant and shopping: it’s New York. If you can’t find something to satisfy you there, then I honestly give up on you. You can bet I’ll be purchasing a Kent State New Era Pinstripe Bowl hat.

Hotel prices might be high, but this is a reasonable destination for a Josh Cribbs-sponsored bus (are you reading this, Josh? Sponsor another trip! I know you want to!).

I am hoping and praying that I will spend my first few days after Christmas in New York, dressed in Kent State blue and gold.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].