Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Not a great bowl season for Pac-12
By Kevin Gemmell
With the exception of Oregon and Utah, the bowl season was not a pleasant one for the Pac-12, which went 2-5 overall in its seven bowl games.
Let's take a looksee, shall we?
- Arizona State, crushed.
- Cal, fumbling it all away.
- Washington, 67 points! Yikes.
- UCLA, spark-less.
- Stanford, coulda, woulda, shoulda.
The good news for the conference is that Oregon finally won the big one. After building a reputation as a team that couldn't get it done out of conference and after conference, the Ducks came out smelling like roses while the majority of the conference smelled, well, ya know.
Oregon's victory paves the way for future success in BCS bowl games -- because the Ducks aren't done -- and with USC back in the postseason mix next season, it's likely the Trojans will bolster conference numbers. Consider that USC would have gone to one of the higher-rated bowl games, thus dropping each team down one peg.
But it wasn't all doom and gloom. Aside from the fantastic Oregon win, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck got a chance to shine one last time in the spotlight and put together one of his greatest gems in an overtime loss to Oklahoma State. As underrated underdogs, it was pretty clear to anyone who watched knows Stanford probably came away looking better from that game than Oklahoma State did. And Washington quarterback Keith Price showed the rest of the world what we have been watching for the past few months. And let's not forget a pretty gutty comeback win for Utah.
Despite how things ended, the conference appears to be trending up. Oregon and USC will be preseason top-10 teams -- and Stanford probably checks in as a top-15/20 squad. Conference recruiting appears to be going well with some big-name players committing to several programs in the past few weeks and four new coaches add an air of mystery and excitement to the futures of Arizona, Washington State, Arizona State and UCLA.
But it's still tough to rinse that sour taste after watching ASU give up the opening kickoff for a touchdown to Boise -- which rolled and never stopped rolling in a 32-point victory. Or watching Cal cough up the ball five times to Texas. Or watching Baylor churn out 777 yards of offense. Or watching Illinois use UCLA to snap a six-game losing streak. Or watching a dead-center field goal hook to the left as the University of Phoenix Stadium scoreboard read 0:00.
Next year will be better. With a new television deal/network, an infusion of big-name coaches and some of the top players in the country coming back, it has to get better. Because after all ... oh wait, hold on, Baylor just scored again...