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Lions and Tires and Blimps, Oh My!

photo of large cats made out of tires
The rubber sculptures took over 400 hours to complete.

Penn State beat Memphis in the Cotton Bowl Saturday, where fans experienced an annual display from the game's sponsor, Akron-based Goodyear. The tiremaker unveiled life-sized rubber sculptures of both teams' mascots. A press release from Goodyear said "These sculptures embody the dedication to outstanding performance built into each tire and every player and coach on the teams."

photo of a rubber sculpture of Memphis mascot Tom the Tiger.
Credit Goodyear
Sculptor Blake McFarland created similar sculptures for participants in the last three Cotton Bowls.

The five-foot tall, 200 pound polymer predators were handcrafted by former minor league baseball player Blake McFarland from more than 260 Goodyear tires.

"Goodyear's annual tire build has quickly become a beloved tradition for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic," Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic President and CEO Rick Baker said in a press release, 

photo of a rubber sculpture of Penn State's Nittany Lion
Credit Goodyear
This is Penn State's fourth Cotton Bowl Appearance and Memphis' first.

"Our ongoing collaboration with Goodyear continues to enhance the Cotton Bowl Classic experience every year for players and fans alike."

This is the fourth year in a row McFarland has been comissioned by goodyear to sculpt rubber mascots of cotton bowl teams. Previous sculptures include the Notre Dame Leprechaun and The Clemson Tiger last year, Ohio State's Brutus and USC's Traveler in December 2017, and Western Michigan's Buster Bronco and the University of Wisconsin's Bucky Badger.

The sculptures will be donated to their respective schools following the game.

Goodyear has sponsored the Cotton Bowl since 2014, but the company's association with college football dates back to the 1955 Rose Bowl, when the Goodyear Blimp first provided aerial coverage. The Blimp was inducted as an honorary member of the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.