Bowl Season. The great distraction for the Holidays, the chance to ignore awkward conversations with family in leau of watching teams that you missed all season. These teams rarely have history, but the pride that is the culmination of seasons and careers manifests in all that is great about college football.
Despite a single BCS birth, the Pac-12 sends nine teams bowling. Beginning Sunday morning we started to see Bowl announcements trickle down to the fan bases. The Pac will have their work cut out for them throughout the slate. Pull for our Pac-12 partners, their success only legitimizes what we already know: We play some ball out here on the coast!
New Mexico Bowl
Washington State vs. Colorado State
We will spend plenty of time here at ACU during the next few weeks, so I will be brief. During the first match up between CSU and WSU Halliday aims to have some fun, and those of you who are still on the fence will see him break every passing record that this newer Bowl game possesses. Our gunslinger is heading to the old west, and he has the CSU secondary in his sights. When you watch this game, remember the Halliday we saw earlier in his career, and the improvement we have seen. Then remember we have him for at least a dozen more games. His ceiling has likely not been approached.
Las Vegas Bowl
Southern Cal vs. Fresno State
These two California schools hale from very different campuses, possess strong but differing football histories, and each represent the Golden State in their own way. Surprisingly, they have only played twice before, in the 1992 Freedom Bowl and a late season barn burner during the 2005 season. The “rivalry” is even for the time being, but Fresno will be greeted with a rejuvenated Trojan team hell bent on proving themselves.
Fresno possesses an 11-1 record, but their schedule only included three bowl teams. SC should not sleep on the Bulldogs, but this is a winnable bowl for the Pac.
Oregon State vs. Boise State
The Beavers and the Broncos have spent the last decade cultivating a Rivalry of Orange across the state line. Christmas Eve will bring them back together in the tropical bowl where coaches wear flowered shirts and lais. Pac-12 fans can lay their hopes at the feet of Mike Riley’s experience, 161 games and a 5-2 bowl record. On the other side of the field a wide eyed Bob Gregory coaching his first game as a head coach.
Fight Hunger Bowl
Washington vs. Brigham Young
No true rivalry exists in this even eight game series, but the lone wolf experience of an FBS Independent helps train a team that can prepare for an opponent in quick fashion. Victorious against a down Texas, BYU saw a season of peeks and valleys. Interim Coach Tuiasosopo will have his work cut out for him in what may be the toughest game for the Pac-12 bowl season.
Oregon vs. Texas
Two teams that are in flux. Will Oregon get up for this game? Will Texas be able to scheme defensively? The first question will determine the outcome here. If the kids from Eugene did not care about the Rose Bowl, what are they going to think of a trip to San Antonio? Also, who is going to be left on the roster? If Oregon can stop creating new and interesting ways to make themselves look spoiled, criminal, or just stupid, they can take the Longhorns, if not . . .
Again, Oregon, you are making the rest of us look terrible.
The Bowl formerly known as Independence
Arizona vs. Boston College
Arizona is befuddling. Beating up on the dregs, getting spanked by everyone else, and then dismantling Oregon. BC comes from a weak conference, but brings one of the top tail backs in the nation to Shreveport. No history exists between theses programs, and they will both be traveling to foreign territory. They will eat their gumbo and try to cultivate animosity, but overall, this game is difficult to judge.
Arizona State vs. Texas Tech
The Pac-12 has Oregon State, the Big 12 has Texas Tech. After opening their season 7-0 against a weak schedule, the wheels came off in classic fashion losing horribly to teams that clearly needed to prove that Tech was a pretender. ASU will put the boys from Lubbock in their place in San Diego. There is nothing that the Red Raiders have that the Sun Devils have not seen.
UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
UCLA is marching out of this regular season assured of their place as a solid, rising program. Mora’s allegiance is cemented along with a group of young players who have confidence in their coach. Va Tech on the other hand may be the most confusing team in the BCS conferences. Tough losses to Duke BC and Maryland by a combined 13 points, but a thumping of Miami by 20 highlight their schedule that included 10 bowl teams.
Trips to El Paso are not exactly coveted by Pac-12 teams, but UCLA will prove their place at the top of the South with a win West Texas.
Stanford vs. Michigan State
There is always an air of respect during the Rose Bowl (provided the traditional match ups are found). Sparty has not been to the Rose Bowl since 1987, and they are out to prove something. For some reason Coach Dantonio felt that they should be in the Championship game if they were victorious over the Buckeyes. Coach Shaw is actively trying to not tell Dantonio that he is being ridiculously cute and fool-hearty by mocking the Grandaddy. Coach Helfrich can attest, if you ignore the grandeur of Pasadena, you will be put in your place.