NCF Nation: bowl-overview-011112

Not a great bowl season for Pac-12

January, 11, 2012
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...

2011 ACC bowl recap

January, 11, 2012
Two wins. Five straight losing postseasons. Zero BCS wins. More points than you’ve ever seen scored in any bowl game ever in the history of bowl games.

It all added up to countless embarrassment for the ACC this bowl season.

Spring practices, summer camp, the opening kickoff for 2012 -- none of it could possibly come fast enough after the ACC’s downright dismal finish to the 2011 bowl season. Only Florida State and NC State were able to come away with bowl wins, but it wasn’t just the overall 2-6 bowl record that was devastating to the ACC’s image, it was the final loss -- Clemson’s 70-33 beatdown by West Virginia -- that made the league the joke of the postseason. It was a new low for the ACC, which saw its respect dip a notch below the Big East this year.

It all began on a sour note with North Carolina’s flat performance in a 41-24 loss to Missouri. UNC gave up 31 points in the first half of the final game under interim coach Everett Withers, and the Tar Heels set the tone for the league. NC State and Florida State gave the ACC hope, though, with wins over Louisville and Notre Dame, respectively. It was an impressive three-touchdown performance by Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon, and once again the Seminoles’ defense made the difference in an 18-14 win over the Irish. FSU had to climb out of a 14-point second-half deficit, but two touchdown passes by EJ Manuel, two field goals from Dustin Hopkins and a rapid maturation of a young offensive line led the comeback.

The highlights end there.

Wake Forest couldn’t stop Mississippi State, despite winning the turnover battle 4-0, and Georgia Tech squandered a 14-point lead before losing to Utah in overtime. Virginia made Auburn look like All-American track stars in a 43-24 loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Hoos’ performance was a reminder that they were promoted to that bowl thanks to Virginia Tech’s unexpected selection in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Is it too late to give those BCS bids back? The ACC went 0-for-2 in its first season with two teams in BCS bowls, and while Virginia Tech’s narrow 23-20 overtime loss to Michigan was respectable, it was yet another yawn in the Hokies’ tired postseason storyline. There was no comparison, though, to what happened in New Orleans (a strong defensive performance in a loss) to what happened in Miami (absolutely no defense in what had to be one of the league’s most embarrassing losses ever).

The ACC dropped to an indefensible 2-13 in BCS bowls. Its respect dropped even further.