Superbowl spikes interest in Pepsi boycott

Meanwhile, human trafficking goes largely unnoticed.

When I received an email about how important it is to boycott Pepsi because of its unhealthy influence on America and the company’s backing of genetically engineered foods, I couldn’t help but scowl. It’s not that I don’t think that boycotts are important, or that genetically engineered foods may be dangerous; I know other nations have imposed boycotts or even bans on GE foods, which should set off a warning signal for us Americans.

But when it comes to the many issues around the grotesque Super Bowl—the hero worship of violence, the gross commercialism and insane amount of money wasted while so many go homeless and hungry, and yes, the sexist and racist ads during the game—I think there is one issue that stands above all the rest, and that is human trafficking.

How the hell can we continue to ignore the fact that people are kidnapped, sold, and used as slaves—often sexually—and property? That the majority of these kidnappings are children? That Super Bowl Sunday is the largest day of human trafficking in the country? This makes me sick to my stomach. It’s a day of rape and abuse, a day of using humans as objects—and people are worried about Pepsi products.

I’ll tell you what. Tomorrow I will write a letter to Pepsi and tell them how I am against their GE foods campaign and won’t buy their crap anymore until they stop. It won’t be difficult; I don’t buy much Pepsi anyway. But today I want to know how we can stop the kidnapping, selling, and raping of human beings. You may think that this doesn’t include US citizens, but that’s wrong, too; thousands of people are kidnapped here and sold as slaves, too. Human trafficking is the second largest “industry” in the world, with at least 12.3 million slaves in captivity today.

Children who are trafficked are expected to be sold to 10-15 buyers per night, averaging 6,000 rapes in a lifetime of exploitation. The average age in the United States of kidnapped victims is 12 to 14, though thousands of children as young as toddlers are kidnapped and sold around the world every year.

If this doesn’t sicken you more than sexist ads, GE foods, and other issues, you might be missing your humanity. Tomorrow, take action against those things—but today, please speak up for the millions of victims forced to submit to rape day after day, and who are specially “bussed in” for rich men during the Super Bowl.

Click here to support Prop 35 to stop human trafficking.

Join the Polaris Project and the Not for Sale Campaign stay in the loop about news and action alerts you can take.

If anything, please share this information so we can make this the issue we talk about—and the one we fight to stop right now.

Johnny Manziel ... Johnny Football ... Johnny Heisman

Tracking the freshman wonder

No, that is not a picture of Johnny Manziel with his Heisman.  At least I don't think so.

But I thought it would be interesting to go back and see what we said in this space about "Johnny Football":

Week Five (first time we mentioned him):

Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M got a healthy dose of statistical inflation after playing [Arkansas].  Manziel went 29-of-38 for 453 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs.  Manziel moved up to fourth in the conference in passing efficiency and No. 11 in the nation.  The freshman probably won't get Heisman notice this year, but he'll certainly start making some lists in the near future if he keeps it up.

Week Seven:

  • The emerging star this week is Johnny Manziel of the Aggies.  The freshman had 181 yards rushing and 395 yards passing in that Louisiana Tech shootout, and, this week, he has taken the conference lead in rushing with 112.7 yards per game.
  • He's also second in the conference in passing efficiency with 14 TDs and 3 INT, a 67.4 completion percentage and 8.8 yards per attempt.

Week Eight:

Right behind [Mississippi State's Ladarius] Perkins [for star of the week] is future Heisman candidate Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.  He has more than 700 yards rushing and is on the verge of getting 2,000 yards passing, after just seven games.  He'd be flying up the list if he weren't a freshman, and if Collin Klein of Kansas State weren't doing the same thing for the undefeated Wildcats.

Week Nine:

The Aggies are No. 5 in the nation in [total offense], behind dazzling freshman Johnny Manziel.  Manziel is No. 30 in the nation in rushing, with 99.1 yards per game, and is No. 29 in the nation in passing efficiency with a 64.3 completion percentage and 16 TDs.

Week Ten:

  • Texas A&M and budding superstar Johnny Manziel romped past Mississippi State, 38-13.  It was the second consecutive loss for the Bulldogs after a 7-0 start.
  • There are two quarterbacks of note in the SEC now.  Apologies to pretenders like Aaron Murray  of Georgia and Tyler Bray of Tennessee, but A.J. McCarron and his zero interceptions and Manziel and his all-around dazzle are the whole story now.
  • McCarron is third in the nation in passing efficiency, with a 66.7 completion percentage, 19 TDs and 9.1 yards per attempt to go with that goose egg in the INT column.
  • More importantly, he led the game-winning drive in the all-important win at LSU.  McCarron completed four of five passes on the 72-yard drive, including the winning 28-yard TD to T.J. Yeldon.  A.J. to T.J.
  • Manziel, meanwhile, leads the SEC in rushing after getting 129 yards against Mississippi State.  It was the fifth time this year he's gone over the century mark.  And, oh-by-the-way, he was just 30-of-36 passing for 311 yards.  You kinda expect this guy to have a Heisman in his collection by 2014 (he's a freshman).
  • Yes, they play each other this week.
  • How will Manziel do against the 'Bama defense?  It's a good question, and it's making folks glad that A&M joined the party just in time for Manziel's arrival.

Week Eleven:

"Johnny Football" is A&M QB Johnny Manziel.  We predicted a few weeks ago he'd have a Heisman by 2014.  He may be ahead of schedule.

Bowl Season Overview: Independents & MAC

Domers will face Tide for national title


Notre Dame (12-0) completed its perfect season with a win over Southern Cal, and finished as the only bowl-eligible undefeated team.  Overtime survivals over Stanford and Pittsburgh saved the Domers’ perfect mark.  Alabama awaits in the Irish in Miami on January 7.  

Brigham Young (7-5) completed its first independent season with the 5th-best scoring defense in the nation.  Only Oregon State put up more than 24 points against them.  The Cougars will head to San Diego for clean-living entertainment before taking on San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Navy (8-4) outlasted Army, 17-13, in their traditional year-end struggle.  The Midshipmen now head to San Francisco and the home of the world champion Giants (AT&T Park) to face Arizona State in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Mid-American Conference

  1. Little Caesars Bowl
  2. Bowl
  3. Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl

The MAC, of course, outdid itself in every way in 2012.  First, by sending Northern Illinois into the Orange Bowl to take on Florida State.  And, second, by using its depth to pluck off a number of other bids left unfilled by the major conferences.

Northern Illinois (12-1) lost only by a single point to Big Ten member Iowa (although, admittedly, not a particularly strong Big Ten member), and then ran the table.  The Huskies capped off the 12-game run with an overtime win over Kent State in the MAC title game.  Of course, NIU only averages about 17,000 per game at its home games, so a huge turnout in Miami is unlikely.

The loser in that conference title tilt, Kent State (11-2), was on the verge of grabbing that BCS spot itself, and the Golden Flashes at least had a significant win (over Rutgers).  They now head to the Bowl to face Arkansas State.  Not name brands, but two of the better teams in a “lesser” bowl.

Although the Little Caesars Bowl is listed as having first choice, somehow it ended up with 6-6 Central Michigan.  Apparently other bowls bid more for the other teams.  The Chippawas will face Western Kentucky.

Ball State (9-3) may not know what a Beef O’Brady’s is (did you guess it’s a restaurant? right!), but it’s about to find out.  The Cardinals face Central Florida in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg.

Toledo (9-3) will rocket to Boise to face Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl on the blue turf.

Bowling Green (8-4) might have been confused playing on blue turf (what with the “green” in the name … or not), but it will head to Washington, D.C. to play San Jose State in the Military Bowl.

Ohio (8-4) finished the year in a disappointing slide (losing four out of five), but didn’t slide enough to miss out on a chance to play in the Independence Bowl against Louisiana-Monroe.

Bowl Season Overview: Conference USA & Sun Belt

Tulsa time at the Liberty Bowl


  1. Liberty Bowl
  2. Hawai'i Bowl
  3. Armed Forces Bowl
  4. Beef O'Brady's Bowl
  5. Military Bowl
  6. New Orleans Bowl

Tulsa (10-3) won the Conference USA title and the Liberty Bowl berth.  The meeting is supposed to be with an SEC team, but the way the dominos fell, the Golden Hurricane ended up with 6-6 Iowa State from the Big 12.

Central Florida (9-4) was the loser in the title game, but it slipped to the fourth slot -- the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg -- probably because they figured that Central Florida fans might be located in, well, central Florida.  The Knights will battle Ball State.

East Carolina (8-4) ended up in the New Orleans Bowl in (surprise!) New Orleans.  The Pirates will line up against local favorite Louisiana-Lafayette.

Southern Methodist (6-6) will travel to Honolulu for a matchup with Fresno State in the Hawai’i Bowl.  Perhaps the folks in islands thought the Mustangs would have a bigger traveling party.

Rice (6-6) will head to Fort Worth for the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force.

Sun Belt

  1. Bowl
  2. New Orleans Bowl

The Sun Belt had five teams reach bowl-eligibility, but Middle Tennessee ended up being passed over.  Four teams will play on, however:

Arkansas State (9-3) will participate in one of the more appealing “lesser” bowls in the Bowl against 11-2 Kent State.  The Golden Flashes wanted the Orange Bowl spot that went to Northern Illinois.

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) got the aforementioned New Orleans Bowl bid against East Carolina.

Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) opened the year with what appeared to be a massive upset of Arkansas.  Later it turned out that Arkansas was a disaster area that hadn’t been declared yet.  Regardless, the Warhawks are headed to the Independence Bowl to face 8-4 Ohio.

Western Kentucky (7-5) also snagged a major upset (over Kentucky), and earned a spot in the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit against Central Michigan.

Bowl Season Overview: Mountain West & WAC

No BCS for Boise this time

Mountain West Bowl Tie-ins

  1. Las Vegas Bowl
  2. Poinsettia Bowl
  3. Armed Forces Bowl
  4. New Mexico Bowl
  5. Hawai'i Bowl

The Mountain West had three teams tie for the top spot in the league, but Boise State (10-2) had the best overall record and was awarded the Las Vegas Bowl bid.  A 21-19 loss to San Diego State almost certainly cost the Broncos the Orange Bowl bid that Northern Illinois grabbed under the “special rule” for non-automatic qualifier conferences under the Bowl Championship Series rules.  At 11-1, you figure that bid goes to the Broncos.  Boise State will take on Washington of the Pac-12.

San Diego State finished at 9-3, and will serve as the home team in the Poinsettia Bowl against Brigham Young.  The Cougars were in the Mountain West until this year, but are now an independent.  Interestingly, although both San Diego State and Boise State have announced intentions to bolt for the Big East (yes, “East”) … there are now reports that both schools, and, yes, Brigham Young, may revert to the Mountain West (as the Big East now looks to have no more stature in the new landscape than the Mountain West will).

Oh, yes, on the field: the Aztecs have won seven in a row after a 2-3 start.

The Armed Forces Bowl is listed as a Mountain West bid, but it goes to Air Force if the Falcons are bowl-eligible and available.  As they were this year.  They will play Rice, who will travel up the road from their Houston home to Fort Worth.

That dropped conference co-champs Fresno State to the Hawai’i Bowl, but that hardly seems like punishment.  The Bulldogs will face Southern Methodist out of Conference USA.

Finally, Nevada heads to the New Mexico Bowl, which is the very first game of bowl season.  The 7-5 Wolf Pack will face Arizona from the Pac-12 in one of the better matchups among the “lesser” bowls.

Western Athletic

1. Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl

There’s not much left of the WAC (victim of realignment carcass-picking), and, despite three bowl-eligible teams, it only placed two into games.

Utah State went undefeated in the conference and got the bid to the Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl in Boise.  It will take to the blue turf against Toledo.

San Jose State will also take on a Mid-American Conference foe: Bowling Green, in the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C.

Louisiana Tech rolled the dice and ended up on the short end of the bowl stick.  The Bulldogs were in line to go to the Independence Bowl or Liberty Bowl, but, in the process of angling for the Liberty bid, let the Independence Bowl deadline go by and ended up with neither.

Bowl Season Overview: Big East

Louisville snags the BCS bid

Big East Bowl Tie-ins

  1. Bowl Championship Series
  2. Russell Athletic Bowl
  3. Belk Bowl
  4. Pinstripe Bowl
  5. BBVA Compass Bowl
  6. Liberty Bowl
  7. Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Louisville (10-2) overcame back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Connecticut by defeating Rutgers, 20-17, and taking the Big East Bowl Championship Series slot.  The Cardinals will head to the Sugar Bowl to take on SEC titan Florida.  It was a bit of an ironic meeting for the Big East, given that Rutgers has announced it’s leaving for the Big Ten and Louisville is headed to the ACC, but the Big East is used to that kind of thing.

The Scarlet Knights (9-3) fall back, then, to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando (formerly the Champ Sports Bowl, and, before that, a whole host of things, including the CarQuest Bowl).  Rutgers will face ACC opponent Virginia Tech.

The Belk Bowl in Charlotte (also previously played under different names such as the Meineke Car Care Bowl and the Continental Tire Bowl) will host Cincinnati (9-3).  The Bearcats will also face an ACC opponent, Duke.  The Blue Devils are not known for their football following, but will be playing in their home state.

The Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, the Bronx, will also have a home-state representative: Syracuse (7-5).  Yes, Syracuse is also en route out of the Big East (to the ACC), and it will face a former Big East foe (West Virginia), which is now part of the Big XII.  The Mountaineers were hoping for a lot more bowl-wise before their season fell apart about halfway through.

The BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham gets Pittsburgh (6-6), which is most notable for sending No. 1-ranked Notre Dame into triple overtime.  The Panthers missed the big upset, however.  They will face Ole Miss of the SEC.

The Big East didn’t fill its slots in the Liberty Bowl or Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.  Connecticut needed an upset over Cincinnati to become eligible, and didn’t get it.

Bowl Season Overview: SEC

'Bama goes for the title once again

SEC Bowl Tie-ins

  1. Sugar Bowl
  2. CapitalOne Bowl
  3. Outback Bowl
  4. Cotton Bowl
  5. Chick-Fil-A Bowl
  6. Gator Bowl
  7. Liberty Bowl
  8. Music City Bowl
  9. BBVA Compass Bowl
  10. Independence Bowl

The logjam at the top of the SEC had Alabama (12-1) at the top pretty much every week, even though the Tide lost to Johnny Heisman (actually Johnny Manzeil) and Texas A&M.  The main question was whether two non-SEC teams would place ahead of the SEC survivor and keep a conference squad out of the national title game.  Oregon and Kansas State were on track to do it, but couldn’t quite pull it off … so Alabama returns to the Bowl Championship Series title match for the third time in five years.

Florida (11-1) lost to Georgia, but thereby got the benefit of not having to face Alabama in the conference title game.  As a result, the Gators snag the Sugar Bowl berth ahead of the Bulldogs.  BCS rules require a Big East team (at least until 2014), so Louisville is the opponent.

Georgia (11-2) came within a few yards of a major upset of Alabama in the SEC title game, but instead settles for the CapitalOne Bowl in Orlando.  They will take on Nebraska, which was booted from the Rose Bowl after a blowout loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

South Carolina (10-2) got a big 35-7 win over Georgia, only to lose their next two to Florida and LSU.  That dropped them to the Outback Bowl, where they face Michigan.

Heisman winner Manziel takes his 10-2 Texas A&M squad to Texas Stadium, where the surging SEC newcomers will face former Big XII foe Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.  The Sooners were aced out of a BCS bid due to the “special rule” that placed Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl.  But the resulting Cotton matchup is better than most of the BCS tilts.

Another one of the better non-BCS meetings is in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, where 10-2 LSU faces fellow 10-game winner Clemson.

Mississippi State takes its 8-4 record to the Gator Bowl to face Northwestern, while Vanderbilt will stay home to face N.C. State in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

Ole Miss (6-6) snagged a trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.  The Liberty Bowl opted for Iowa State of the Big XII, and the Independence Bowl slot went unfilled.

College Bowl Overview: Pac-12

Cardinals get Roses; Ducks settle for Fiesta

Pac-12 Bowl Tie-ins

  1. Rose Bowl
  2. Alamo Bowl
  3. Holiday Bowl
  4. Sun Bowl
  5. Las Vegas Bowl
  6. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
  7. New Mexico Bowl

Stanford lost to Washington and to national title contender Notre Dame in overtime, but the Cardinal knocked off then-No. 2 USC and then-No. 2 Oregon on its way to an 11-2 mark.  They still had to defeat UCLA twice in six days to make the Rose Bowl, but the Bruins fell both times.

Oregon (11-1) only lost once, but it was at the worst possible time.  Falling to the Cardinal kept them out of the Pac-12 title game, and never really gave the Ducks a chance to overcome Alabama in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.  As a result, Oregon heads to the consolation bowl (actually, the Fiesta Bowl) for a meeting with fellow near-miss upset victim Kansas State.

Oregon State was red hot before dropping three of its last six to finish 9-3.  The Beavers earned the Alamo Bowl slot, where they will take on home-state favorite Texas.  The different shade of orange involved might make for an interesting stadium mix, but the Longhorn shade figures to predominate.

UCLA (9-4) was much stronger than expected, and had a better year than their much-touted cross-town rivals at Southern Cal.  But the back-to-back losses to Stanford cost them a shot at the Rose Bowl.  They’ll settle for a trip to San Diego to face Big XII upset specialist Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.

Speaking of Southern Cal, the NFL-talent-laden Trojans certainly didn’t expect to be wrapping up their season with a game against 6-7 Georgia Tech (the Yellow Jackets sneaked into a bowl under an obscure rule related to teams that are 6-6 before losing conference title games).  But USC (7-5) stumbled home, losing four of its last five, and fell far enough down the pecking order that a losing ACC team ended up on the other side of the field.

Unlike USC, Washington considered its 7-5 record to be a positive development.  The Huskies end up in Las Vegas to face Mountain West champion Boise State.

Arizona State is another squad that’s pretty much OK with a 7-5 slate.  San Francisco will host the Sun Devils and their Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl match with the Naval Academy.

Finally, Arizona (7-5) will have the honor of kicking off bowl season on Dec. 15 in the New Mexico Bowl against Nevada.

Bowl Season Overview: Big XII

Wildcats get next-best game after missing title bout

Big XII Bowl Tie-ins

  1. Fiesta Bowl
  2. Cotton Bowl
  3. Alamo Bowl
  4. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
  5. Holiday Bowl
  6. Mieneke Car Care Bowl
  7. Pinstripe Bowl
  8. Heart of Dallas Bowl

Kansas State (11-1) and Oregon were on the path toward a possible national championship meeting, when both were upset on the same night in November.  The Wildcats fell to Baylor and the Ducks were upset by Stanford.  So, their Fiesta Bowl meeting will be something of a letdown, but it will still be one of the marquee bowl matchups of the year.

Oklahoma (10-2) looked to be on its way to a Bowl Championship Series matchup in the Sugar Bowl, before Northern Illinois managed to sneak into the BCS picture via the anti-antitrust rule (that is, the “don’t sue us, smaller conferences, we will throw you a bone if you don’t” rule).  So the Sooners will get reacquainted with recent Big XII evacuee Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.  (By the way, that’s the Cotton Bowl the event, not the Cotton Bowl the stadium; the Cotton Bowl the stadium is where the Heart of Dallas Bowl is played.  Keep it straight.  There will be a test.)

The Alamo Bowl is played at the Alamo Dome, not the Alamo the historical site.  It will have an appealing matchup with Texas (8-4) taking on Oregon State from the Pac-12.

If you’ve been following at home, you may already know that the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is in Arizona, and the Big XII representative is conference newcomer TCU.  The Horned Frogs will face Michigan State.
In San Diego, the team that upended Kansas State will take on the team that just lost twice in a row to Stanford.

Baylor (7-5) faces UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.  The Bears were on the brink of not making a bowl at all, before finishing with a major flourish -- defeating Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Texas Tech (7-5), for its part, will roll across the state to Houston, site of the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, to take on Minnesota.

And … you thought that Kansas State’s bowl picture was sort of a letdown … well, consider West Virginia.  The Mountaineers were 5-0, ranked near the top nationally and had Geno Smith waiting like a guy in front of a vending machine, watching for his Heisman Trophy to appear in the slot.  Next thing they knew they were 5-5 and fighting just to be bowl-eligible.  Obviously, they are bowl-eligible (they finished with a pair of wins to go 7-5) since they are playing in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium in New York City.  They will take on Syracuse.

Finally, there’s that game in the Cotton Bowl that’s not the Cotton Bowl.  The Heart of Dallas Bowl will feature Oklahoma State (7-5) against Purdue from the Big Ten.


Bowl Season Overview: Big Ten

Badgers salvage season with unexpected Rose trip

Big Ten Bowl Tie-ins

  1. Rose Bowl
  2. CapitalOne Bowl
  3. Outback Bowl
  4. Gator Bowl
  5. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
  6. Meineke Car Care Bowl
  7. Heart of Dallas Bowl
  8. Little Caesars Bowl

Just when Nebraska looked to be back in the college football elite and Wisconsin’s season looked to be slipping into the muck (following two straight losses), the Badgers jumped up and blasted the Huskers right out of Indianapolis in the Big Ten title game, 70-31.

That put Wisconsin (8-5) into the Rose Bowl for the third straight year, where it will face Stanford.  But, perhaps, the bigger upset came shortly after, when Head Coach Bret Bielema announced he was leaving the Badgers to take over the mess at Arkansas.  Another ding for the self-image of the Big Ten, as one of its more respected coaches bolts for the SEC.

That might add a bit more color to the annual series of Florida bowls pitting Big Ten and SEC runners-up.
Nebraska finished 10-3, but looked plenty ugly in two of its losses (last week, and its 63-38 loss to Ohio State in October.  Nevertheless, the Huskers got the next-best bowl slot, a return trip to the CapitalOne Bowl in Orlando, where it will take on Georgia.  The Bulldogs came within a hair of an upset visit to the national championship game.

Michigan (8-4) got the bid to the Outback Bowl in Tampa.  The Wolverines take on South Carolina, who delivered a nasty blow to Georgia before losses to Florida and LSU.

Northwestern (9-3) will have the third shot at upending an SEC outfit -- in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.  The Wildcats face Mississippi State, which was 7-0 before sliding to 8-4.

The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is not in Buffalo.  It is in Tempe, Arizona.  It was once known as the Insight Bowl.  Michigan State (6-6) gets the Big Ten slot, and will face Big XII newcomer TCU.

Similarly, the Meineke Car Care Bowl has identity issues.  The bowl game in Houston appropriated the title sponsor of the bowl in Charlotte that is now known as the Belk Bowl.  The Houston version (formerly known as the Houston Bowl), is now the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.  Regardless, Minnesota (6-6) will play there, against Texas Tech.

But there are no identity issues for the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is played -- surprise! -- in Dallas.  Formerly known as the TicketCity Bowl, it is played in the Cotton Bowl, since, of course, the Cotton Bowl itself is not played there.  (Maybe there are identity issues after all.)  Purdue (6-6) will go there to face Oklahoma State.

The Big Ten did not fill its slot in the Little Caesars Bowl.