Advertisement

Jimmy Kimmel’s name is attached to the inaugural L.A. Bowl, so expect a good time

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel smiles.
Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has his own bowl game, and it features Oregon State and Utah State playing at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Saturday.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Share

It didn’t take long for the Utah State Aggies to get a taste of Hollywood.

On Wednesday night, they appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” as part of the promotion for Saturday’s Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, which features Oregon State, the Pac-12’s fifth seed, and Mountain West champion Utah State. One by one, players sitting in the audience strode to a microphone at center stage to deliver a “fun fact” about themselves.

Quarterback Logan Bonner joked that he built a girlfriend out of Legos, who then dumped him. Defensive tackle Marcus Moore said he wanted to build the first Dave & Busters in space. Wide receiver Derek Wright confessed he actually had no idea what an Aggie was.

Advertisement

“I always tell the young guys the best part about the bowl games is the uniqueness,” said Nick Heninger, a senior defensive end for Utah State. “Jimmy Kimmel was obviously a unique experience. All the guys were raving about it.”

USC snagged California’s top recruit for the second straight year; Domani Jackson says he chose the Trojans when they retained coach Donte Williams.

The game will be the first collegiate bowl played at SoFi Stadium, home of the Rams and Chargers. Not only that, it is the first bowl named after a person.

“Ever since I was 52, which was last year, I’ve dreamed of having a college football bowl game named after me,” Kimmel joked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Thursday night.

Weirdness abounds. Kimmel told The Athletic earlier this week that he didn’t pay to have his name added. The game is sponsored by Stifel, an investment banking company with headquarters in St. Louis. The game’s mascot is a vomiting camel named Jimmy Camel.

Kimmel may be approaching Saturday’s festivities with the same self-deprecating humor that has made him one of the most recognizable figures in late-night comedy. But the game itself is no joke.

After rumors swirled of another bowl coming to L.A., the Pac-12 announced in 2019 a five-year agreement to play in an L.A. Bowl against a Mountain West conference opponent. But the inaugural game, scheduled for December 2020, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SoFi Stadium in Inglewood will play host to the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl on Saturday.
(Gary Klein / Los Angeles Times)

In June, SoFi announced it was giving the bowl a new, cheerful face: Kimmel.

He’s often played the “Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl” shtick for laughs but there’s an undertone to Kimmel’s outlook. He graduated from UNLV, a Mountain West school, as well as Arizona State of the Pac-12, and has done quite a bit of promotion for the game itself.

Kimmel will be in attendance and operating what he called “the world’s most powerful T-shirt cannon.”

Meanwhile, the two teams feature a measure of intrigue. Utah State pulled off upset after upset this year in stampeding to a 10-3 record, while 7-5 Oregon State has been inconsistent but knocked off eventual Pac-12 champion Utah.

“This is the kind of game that you live for,” said Andrzej Hughes-Murray, a senior Oregon State linebacker.

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. stayed overnight in the hospital with a concussion after a scary injury and is expected to be discharged Friday.

Oregon State features a dynamic rushing attack led by junior running back B.J. Baylor. The Beavers’ defense looks reformed after defensive coordinator Tyler Bray stepped in for Tim Tebesar, who was fired in November.

A year after plodding to a 1-5 record, Utah State coach Blake Anderson stepped into a rudderless program and piloted the Aggies to a turnaround that earned him a semifinalist nod for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year award. The Aggies came back from a 12-point deficit in their opener to knock off Washington Stateand defied expectations all year.

They’re led by the prolific duo of wide receiver Deven Thompkins and quarterback Bonner, both of who had record-breaking seasons. Thompkins tallied 1,589 receiving yards, the most in program history, while Bonner tossed 36 touchdowns.

“This whole season has been like a dream,” Thompkins said. “It’s an honor to be here and play in the first Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. We get to set the bar for all the years to come for this bowl game.”

Of course, if Kimmel heard how many times players and coaches had no choice but to utter his name in advance of Saturday, he’d probably giggle.


Advertisement