Digesting The Other Pac-12 Bowl Games
Here we are at the end of another college football season, with only bowl games left to play. For the 3rd straight year, Oregon has been included in a BCS Bowl and thus, playing in one of the the final games of the season. If there is a “price” fans pay to play in the bigger games, it is that the layover between the regular season and the bowl game can seem like an eternity. 30-something bowls have to be played first. While those bowl games not featuring the green and yellow may not mean as much, as football fans we do tune in from time to time.
We may be content with catching a few highlights or even just a score of some games, but others have a way of drawing you in. The current bowl system may be flawed, but it seems to facilitate some great matchups every year you never knew you cared about. You pick sides. Maybe you or someone you know has ties to a school playing, or maybe you pick out something you just don’t like about the other team. It happens to me every year.
Once the games get rolling over the next few weeks, you may find yourself at the edge of your seat cheering on a team like San Diego State one night, and cursing the Temple Owls the next. You might text friends- “Did you just see what happened in the Beef ‘O’ Bradys Bowl?…”
I always seem to pay more specific attention to the bowl games featuring teams in the Pac-12, or teams that Oregon faced in non-conference play. Ideally- for the good of national perception- we want every team that Oregon played to go undefeated and blow out their bowl opponents, in turn making Oregon’s schedule look tougher and the Pac-12 seem stronger. However, that almost never happens, and there is just no way to cheer for a team like Washington for example. Even if it is for the good for the conference perception or Oregon’s BCS computer average.
The fact that Oregon has won the last 2 ever Pac-10, and 1st Pac-12 Championships and is playing in it’s third consecutive BCS bowl game, and second Rose Bowl in 3 years is a wonderful thing.
Here is a look at what other teams and fan bases in the Pac-12 are looking ahead to. The conference drew some very interesting matchups this year, and some that should provide a sort of appetizer to the Rose Bowl main course. With Holiday feasts approaching for many, lets take a look at the table this year.
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State (6-6, 4-5) vs #7 Boise St (11-1, 6-1)
Resembles: Chunky Cranberry sauce. Some will like it, others will find it repulsive.
Us Duck fans got to find out first hand what a missed field goal can do to a season otherwise filled with promise. This year, Boise State made it 2 seasons in a row. Imagine: A field goal from being undefeated, and possibly having their best argument for a BCS championship perhaps ever. A BCS bowl would have been assured at a minimum. Instead, they get to play in a bowl named after a transmission shop against a 6-6 team with a losing conference record who fired their coach. At least it’s in Vegas!
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: UCLA (6-7, 5-4) vs Illinois (6-6, 2-6)
Resembles: Green Bean Casserole. Does anyone think this is good? Most will glance at it, and a brave few may even take a half-hearted scoop.
Like the casserole, most will probably pass on this one. One team with a losing record, one that went 2-6 in conference play. Both have fired their coaches. Even die hard fans of these programs are probably not very proud of this. The good news is that both teams like to run the ball, so it has a chance of being one of the shorter games.
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Utah (7-5, 4-5) vs Georgia Tech (8-4, 5-3)
Resembles: Aunt Edna’s mystery dish. Not sure what your going to get.
Utah struggled early this season, but put together a strong 2nd half before blowing a birth in the Pac-12 Championship when they threw up on themselves at home against Colorado in the regular season finale. Utah has been playing with a back up QB for much of the season and they have relied heavily on John White 4 running the ball. He has responded with 1,404 yards and 14 td’s on 290 carries. However, Utah ranks 82nd in rushing yards, 99th in passing yards, and 78th in points nationally. Georgia Tech can flat run the ball, and is one of a few teams that average more yards per game than the Ducks. Rumor has it that rush defense is the strong point of the Utes defense. That will be tested in this one.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Washington (7-5, 5-4) vs #12 Baylor (9-3, 6-3)
Resembles: Chocolate cream pie. Points can be delicious, but if Washington somehow wins you will feel empty inside.
Washinton will need their whole team to give a phenominal effort to keep up in this one. Facing probable Heisman winner RG3 and his record setting season wont be easy for the Huskies defense. Griffin3 has passed for nearly 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns, but the Bears also run for 215.1 yards per game. However, Baylor is not known as a defensive power house, and if Chris Polk can get rolling the Huskies could make this a high scoring game.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: California (7-5, 4-5) vs Texas (7-5, 4-5)
Resembles: Mashed Potatoes with no gravy. Bland and lacking the flavor and substanence it would otherwise have.
Cal finished the season relatively strong and had both a running back and a receiver gain over 1,200 yards in Sofele and Allen. Texas has used multiple Quarterbacks throughout the season and has struggled to find consistency throughout their season as a result. This could be a chance for Cal to kick a traditional national power while they are down, but with Cal you can never be sure which team will show up: the one who beat Utah 34-10 or the Bears that got blown out 31-14 vs UCLA?
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: #4 Stanford (11-1, 8-1) vs #3 Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1)
Resembles: Pumpkin Pie. The game kicks off after the Rose Bowl, so a dessert seemed to fit here.
Both of these teams could make arguments that they were the best one loss teams in the country. While the Fiesta Bowl is a nice compromise, this game will give each a chance to further plead their case. Despite Oklahoma State being among the top teams in forcing turnovers, Stanford’s Andrew Luck will most likely be his typical efficient, all-world self. The Cardinal should be able to have success running the ball behind an experienced and physical offensive line. Defense may be another story altogether. While the Cowboys like to run the ball, the passing game is the focal point as Brandon Weeden has thrown for 4,328 yards and 34 td’s. Stanford will need it’s best game from the defensive secondary, and it still probably wont be enough. Expect to see Justin Blackmon catching lots of passes and having a huge day. Don’t count Stanford out in this one though. If Iowa State could bring the Cowboys down, so can Stanford.
So that makes 3 bowl games matching the Pac-12 against the Big-12, 2 games against the Big-10 (including the Rose Bowl), 1 ACC, and one from the Mountain West. Which begs a question: What needs to happen to arrange an annual Pac-12 vs SEC bowl?