Who has the most to prove in the bowls?
While Cal probably feels like it's got a score to settle with Texas, the Longhorns have their own issues. As in they need to rediscover their mojo as a national power.
The pressure is squarely on Texas on Dec. 28, as [Mack] Brown doesn't want to enter 2012 spring ball having lost four out of five to end the previous season, with the lone win coming in a game that had more to do with the Texas A&M Aggies' losing than the Longhorns' winning.
Will UT be able to turn it around next season? The Horns' performance against Cal could go a long way toward providing the answer.
Theories abound in Austin as to what has turned a program that was riding such an incredible wave of consistent success into a .500 team in the past 24 months. Is it a lack of toughness, a false sense of entitlement, improved talent and coaching in the Big 12?
One thing it's clearly not is recruiting, as the Longhorns perennially have the pick of the litter in talent-rich Texas (they currently sit No. 1 on ESPN's 2012 class rankings) and have the recent NFL draft picks to show for it.
As for Oregon, Huard writes:
The recurring theme, save USC, is that Kelly and the Ducks can be vulnerable if an opponent has time to prepare. To be fair, the six opponents skewed the theory of excess time by also being some of the best teams in all of college football when the Ducks faced them, but as said above in the Notre Dame section, perception can often become reality in this sport.
You can be sure that if the Badgers run over the Ducks and slow their prolific offense (ranked third at 45 points per game) in the way that the Broncos, Buckeyes and Tigers did before them, the articles will be written and the theory strengthened. And if the Ducks are to make the leap from Rose Bowl champion to BCS title champion, they'll need to prove they can win big games after long layoffs.
I suspect most Ducks fans agree.
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State