- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Eight teams in the Pac-12 are going bowling and four are not. Of those eight teams, neither Arizona nor Oregon State were in the postseason last year. (Same for USC, but that was sanction-based, not performance-based). Fortunes can change in a hurry. Just ask California and Utah. Both teams played in a bowl game last season and now are home for the holidays instead.
Can they turn it around next season and get back to a bowl game? How about Colorado and Washington State?
Your Thursday poll question is this: Of the four Pac-12 teams not going to a bowl game, which one has the best chance at making the postseason next year?
California: We know they have athletes. And even though they lose wide receiver Keenan Allen to the NFL, there are plenty of talented playmakers coming back on both sides of the ball. Does new head coach Sonny Dykes get the Bears back into the postseason like Rich Rodriguez did at Arizona?
Colorado: New head coach Butch Jo... err ... Tim DeRu... err ... Mike MacIn... err. Well, whoever ends up coaching the Buffaloes has a long road ahead. The good news is that all of those freshmen who played this year will be much more experienced and seasoned. The right coach -- with the right off-season training program -- could make some immediate progress.
Utah: This is unfamiliar territory for the Utes -- not practicing in December. The good news is Travis Wilson will spend the entire offseason as the starter, getting plenty of work and growing into the position as the team's leader/quarterback. Losses on defense will hurt. But this is a team that knows how to make the postseason.
Washington State: A glimmer of hope rose up from the Apple Cup victory. Enough to think maybe the Cougars can turn it around in 2013. Lots of things can factor in -- like whether Jeff Tuel is granted another year (and if he opts to return) but another year in the system -- and the understanding of what Mike Leach is looking for -- could be enough to get the Cougars to six wins. Like Utah, Leach isn't used to not practicing in December.
None of the above: None of the programs are ready to be bowl eligible next season.
32mChantel Jennings and Ted Miller