"I have loved football as an almost mythic game since I was in the fourth grade. To me, the game wasn't even grounded in reality. The uniform turned you into a warrior. Being on a team, the mythology of physical combat, the struggle against the elements, the narrative of the game..." ~ Steve Sabol (NFL Films)

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Rice Bowl 73 (2020)

 

In 2020, for the second straight year and third time in four years, Japan’s X League champions, the Fujitsu Frontiers (9-0) faced the top college team in Japan, the Kwansei Gakuin Fighters (10-1) on January 3, to decide the overall Japanese American football title in the 73rd Rice Bowl.

These two teams met in 2019's final, and the Frontiers prevailed 52-17. In fact, the college champion has not won a Rice Bowl since the Ritsumeikan Panthers defeated the Panasonic Impulse 17-13 in the 2009 Rice Bowl. The Fighters had not won the title since 2002 when they downed the Asahi Soft Drink Challengers 30-27.

Kwansei Gakuin are making their 13th appearance in this edition of the Rice Bowl which had been held every year since 1984. The Fighters have only won the title once. Meanwhile, in this game they are facing a Fujitsu team that has won four of the last five championships.

Fujitsu enters this game undefeated after rallying to defeat the Panasonic Impulse 28-26 in the X Bowl.

Fighters historic

Still, the Fighters had rewritten college football history and their 38-28 win over the Waseda Bears was their 30th national title making them the only college team in the world to have reached that mark. They eclipsed the Princeton Tigers with their 29th title last year. Legendary head coach Hideaki Toriuchi stepped down after this game and would leave the game as the winningest college head coach in history in terms of overall titles.

This unique game was always the biggest football draw in Japan and attracted 30,000+ spectators to the Tokyo Dome every year. And there’s good reason, Despite the fact that the outcome would seem to be a foregone conclusion, the underdog storyline never got old.

Just imagine if Clemson had taken on the New England Patriots following the Super Bowl?

Nevertheless, the Frontiers had a lot at stake. They do not want to be the first X League team to lose the Rice Bowl in over a decade.

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