Game theory: The Emerald Bowl, 12/26/09

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Caitlin Donohue isn't a sports writer. But she sure likes to win. Check out the last installment of "Game Theory" here. Oh, and give us a shout if you've got a big game coming up in the Bay.

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Oh hell yes, USC! You are so partying with the man-sized walnut tonight! Photo by Erik Anderson

The vendor held aloft his rain-soaked churro, blithely shouting his wares through the wet. His dogged enthusiasm for the task at hand echoed the general sentiment of the 2009 Emerald Bowl spectators. San Francisco’s only college football bowl game was a strictly rain-or-shine event, tied as it was to millions of dollars worth of endorsements, hotel rooms and sheer showmanship. Fact was, most of the fans in the audience seemed stoked to sit out in the 40-degree temperatures, chilling rain and maximum wind gusts of 18 mph to watch their teams battle it out in the spotlight for a day.

Did you know San Francisco hosts a college bowl game? You’re to be excused for your ignorance. As far as bowl games go, the Emerald Bowl is not a marquee event. It attracts good teams whose programs didn’t have the greatest year ever. 2009 saw the clash of USC and Boston College, whose mediocre records (USC 8-4, BC 8-4) belied the fact that the schools have storied football legacies.

They were both kind of surprised to be meeting each other in a slightly less glorious bowl game, but up for the challenge. “It was a good news bad news thing,” said first year BC coach Frank Spaziani of the moment he found out his Eagles would be taking on the legendary Trojans, winners of more bowl games than any other team in history. “Kind of like when your mother-in-law falls off a cliff.”

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I could have lied to you and said these fans were cheering for their football team in this photo. But in the spirit of journalistic integrity... they were freaking out over free T-shirts. Photo by Erik Anderson