Monday, January 2, 2017

Blue Cheese Burgers with Bacon-Onion Jam

THE GAME: USC vs Penn State

I've been to several lower-tier bowl games. The Holiday Bowl, The Silicon Valley Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl, the Freedom Bowl. 

One year I went to the Bowl. It is now known as the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl; I am not sure if this makes me really happy or extremely depressed. 

A decade ago, my Christmas present to my dad was a pair of tickets to the Emerald Bowl. We went to San Francisco, saw UCLA get thrashed by Florida State, ate a lousy fish & chips dinner, and returned home calling the trip a complete bust. A few years later, Florida State was stripped of the win after a massive cheating scandal. (UCLA didn't get credited with the win, however; the game was scrubbed from the record books as if it were never played. I sent my dad an email along the lines of "See, it wasn't such a bad trip - we saw a football game that didn't exist. Not many people can say that.")

But, it may not surprise you to learn, none of them comes close to seeing the Rose Bowl. The moment you walk through the tunnel and see the field painted and the mountains looming over you... it's special.  

I've only been a couple of times, but other than those trips, I've never failed to watch the game on TV in my adult life, and today was no exception. 

  • I picked up two USDA Prime beef patties from the local butcher, stuffed with blue cheese and green onion, and grilled them on a 40-year-old comal. 
  • I roasted a few slices of thick Amish bacon and diced them up, then cooked them in a pan with onion, sugar, and vinegar to form a bacon-onion jam.
  • Then I added peppery arugula and creamy blue cheese dressing and stuck it all between a buttery Hawaiian bun. 
  • I ate this with a friend for whom I have probably cooked twenty different kinds of burgers. She said this was definitely the best one I have ever made her. 

  • I will never, ever get tired of seeing that first shot of the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day (or, you know, January 2nd) with the San Gabriels in the background. I spent a couple of New Year's Days living on the East Coast. I didn't pine away for In-n-Out Burger or Jacaranda trees or Dodger Stadium... but seeing that view of the Rose Bowl on January 1st always made me homesick. 
  • This is the 6th time USC has played in the Rose Bowl Game since UCLA's last appearance. That's because unlike UCLA's fans and alumni, USC's do not tolerate nor excuse complete mediocrity. 
  • As much as I love the home uniforms of Texas, Michigan, Alabama, and Auburn... there is not a uniform in the country I like as much as Penn State's home jersey. 
  • Am I the only person who has no clue what companies sponsor what bowl games anymore? When did it become the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl instead of Tostitos? FedEx sponsored the Orange Bowl throughout my childhood; I can't even guess when it stopped. I need to stop giving my dad a hard time when he refers to the Golden State Warriors as the San Francisco Warriors (their name until 1971) or Barry Bonds as Bobby Bonds. 
  • I don't believe I will ever look out the window, see the Stealth Bomber fly by, and not get excited. 
  • 13 seconds into the game and PSU has shown not once, but TWICE that their heads aren't in it.
  • Second PSU interception of the game. Make that THREE times in 2 minutes 45 seconds. 
  • USC had 13 points in the 1st quarter. PSU had 12 plays. 
  • After Sam Darnold made his first start on a Friday night back in September, a friend who was stuck at work sent me a text asking how SC had done. I replied "They lost, but they have found their quarterback for their next few seasons." What a talent. 
  • 27-21 USC at halftime. The Trojans' defense didn't look great. However, Penn State's looked nonexistent. I'm not sure their defensive backs even made the trip to Pasadena.
  • That 79-yard run by Barkley at the beginning of the third quarter was like Barry Sanders or Reggie Bush. Just phenomenal. 
  • Was it really necessary to bring an ancient Keith Jackson into the booth? Did that add anything to the broadcast? Couldn't you have just let me remember him the way he was? 
  • Please, for the love of God, don't do that with Vin Scully in a few seasons. 
  • Wow that was a hell of a catch by Godwin. 
  • These teams set the record for most points scored in a Rose Bowl while there were still two minutes left. In the 3rd quarter. 
  • You see what happened to Jake Butts and now Adoree Jackson and you wonder if the new norm is going to be skipping bowl games like McCaffrey and Fournette did. 
  • A couple of hours ago I was wondering if this game would end before the Sugar Bowl started. Now I'm starting to wonder if it will end before the National Championship game next Monday. Not that I'm complaining. 
  • I was wrong: PSU's defensive backs are in Pasadena, as they just gave up two first downs, committed two pass interference penalties, and then allowed a touchdown in double coverage. All on five consecutive plays. Great game, guys. 
  • Darnold had 120 seconds to go 80 yards. He only needed 40 seconds. 
  • I guess Penn State isn't so much a second-half team as a third-quarter team. 
  • The Big Ten finishes 3-7 in bowl games, with Michigan, Ohio State, and now Penn State all losing. 
  • That was one of the most exciting games I've seen in a long, long time. 


  1. That was a very long game! Over 5 hours? That must have been why I drank too many beers... #RoseBowlForever

  2. It's all relative. Yes, the game was long, but it was incredibly entertaining. The Hateful Eight, by contrast, was three hours long and I was bored the whole time.