Pac-12: bowl index 2011

Utah to the Sun Bowl

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
9:50
PM ET
Utah will face Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Here's the official release:

Georgia Tech and the University of Utah have both accepted invitations to participate in the 78th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl, announced Sun Bowl Association football selection committee chairman John H. Folmer. The game will pit the Yellow Jackets and Utes on Saturday, Dec. 31 at noon (MST) at Sun Bowl Stadium. The game will be broadcast for the 44th consecutive year on CBS.

“We’re tremendously excited about a great matchup between two great programs from outstanding conferences,” said Mike Rogers, Sun Bowl Association president. “Georgia Tech defeated ACC champion Clemson earlier this season while Utah comes to El Paso having won five of their last seven games.”

The 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl will mark the second meeting between these two teams. The only other meeting was in the 2005 Emerald Bowl when Utah defeated a 13th-ranked Georgia Tech, 38-10.

“This matchup provides El Paso the opportunity to see two great scoring offenses with very contrasting styles of play,” Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said. “This game has a potential to be a high-scoring affair.

Georgia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC) finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division and is making its second appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets defeated Texas Tech, 17-9, on Dec. 19, 1970.

"Our team is excited for the opportunity to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl," Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. "Our players worked hard this season and we're excited to have another game to play.

"We will face a very good Utah team that played its best football down the stretch. Coach (Kyle) Whittingham and his staff do a very good job and they will be very prepared."

This is the Yellow Jackets’ 15th consecutive bowl appearance, tied for the fourth-longest active streak among FBS schools, and will play in their 40th bowl game overall (22-17) tying for the 12th most nationally.

Utah (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12), is also making their second appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Utes shut out New Mexico, 26-0, on New Year’s Day in 1939. It marks the 10th bowl in 11 years for the Utes and the seventh under head coach Kyle Whittingham and the program’s 17th appearance in a bowl game.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to represent the Pac-12 Conference in the Sun Bowl,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “This is a longstanding and prestigious bowl game and we are looking forward to playing in El Paso. A Utah team has not played in this bowl in over 70 years so there should be a lot of intrigue and interest from our fan base and around the country.

“We’re proud that yet another Utah senior class will be playing in its fourth postseason game and that is a testament to the commitment our players bring to the program year in and year out.”

California fans don't like Texas coach Mack Brown after he lobbied for the Rose Bowl over the Bears in 2004.

The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl will give the Bears a chance to get some revenge.

Here's the official press release:

Cal (7-5) has accepted a bid to play in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against Texas (7-5) of the Big 12 Conference at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Wednesday, Dec. 28. The game will be televised live nationally by ESPN and kick off at 5 p.m. PT.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to play in the Holiday Bowl,” said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, who is 79-47 (.627) in his 10th season at Cal. “They do a great job of putting on a first-class event both for our players and fans. We look forward to playing a university with a great tradition such as Texas.”

“The future of the Cal football program is bright and stable under the leadership of Jeff Tedford,” Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. “I have confidence that coach Tedford and his staff have our program headed in the right direction. The way we finished the regular season to improve our bowl prospects and earn a Holiday Bowl selection reflects that.”

Cal won three of its final four games, including a 47-38 victory over Arizona State in the regular-season finale to post a 7-5 overall mark and a 4-5 record in Pac-12 action. Texas is also 7-5 overall and finished 4-5 in Big 12 contests.

The Golden Bears have been bowl eligible nine of the last 10 seasons and been selected for a bowl in eight of the past nine campaigns. Cal owns a 5-2 postseason record in seven previous bowl appearances under Tedford, including a school-record string of four consecutive bowl victories from 2005-08. One of those wins came the last time the Bears played in the Holiday Bowl in 2006 when Cal defeated Texas A&M, 45-10. Cal suffered a 45-31 loss to Texas A&M the only other time the Bears played in the Holiday Bowl in 2004.

“The University of California is thrilled to be participating in the Holiday Bowl once again,” Barbour continued. “The bowl organizers do a fantastic job, and we have had a wonderful experience every time we have turned San Diego into Bear Territory.”

Cal has an all-time bowl record of 10-9-1 dating back to its first game, a 28-0 victory over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1921. In addition to their two previous Holiday Bowl appearances, Cal also played in San Diego in its most recent bowl contest in 2009, falling 37-27 to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Texas holds an all-time series lead of 4-0, and was ranked in the nation’s top 10 in each previous meeting, including the last matchup in 1970 in Austin when the Longhorns prevailed, 56-15. UT also took the first matchup in 1959 in Austin, 33-0, while the other games were contested in Berkeley – 28-3 in 1961 and 17-0 in 1969.Cal and Texas have scheduled a home-and-home series for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, with the Bears visiting Austin on Sept. 12, 2015, and UT making a return trip to Berkeley on Sept. 10, 2016.

This year, the Longhorns boast a strong defense that leads the Big 12 in total defense (315.33 ypg), rushing defense (103.67 ypg) and passing defense (211.67 ypg) while allowing 23.25 ppg. On offense, Texas averages 210.42 ypg on the ground and is scoring at a 28.67 ppg clip.

Stanford headed to Fiesta Bowl

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
9:00
PM ET
As expected, the Stanford Cardinal were tapped as an at-large selection for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They'll face Oklahoma State on Jan. 2 in Glendale, Ariz.

Stanford held on to its No. 4 spot in the BCS standings, behind LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State, guaranteeing them a spot in a BCS bowl game.

At first glance, this game appears to be a shootout in the making featuring two of the nation's top quarterbacks in Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

Oklahoma State -- once on pace for a national championship berth before being derailed at Iowa State -- earned its spot by blasting Oklahoma 44-10 in its regular season finale. Likewise, Stanford was on track for a possible national championship appearance before falling at home to Oregon.

The official matchup came toward the end of the announcement show on ESPN. However, those with a keen ear probably heard Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy let it slip when he was being interviewed earlier in the show.

He was asked if his team would be able to rebound from the disappointment of not playing in the national championship, to which he said they are excited to play a great Stanford team.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will match UCLA against Illinois, which means both teams will be using interim coaches.

Illinois fired Ron Zook and UCLA fired Rick Neuheisel.

Here's the official release:

The UCLA Bruins, champions of the Pac-12 South division, will meet the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park. The Bruins and Illini will play Saturday, December 31, 2011 with a 12:30 p.m. [PST]/3:30 p.m. [EST] kickoff. ESPN will televise the game to a nationwide audience.

Bowl co-founder and the game’s only Executive Director, Gary Cavalli, noted the Bruins’ return to San Francisco. UCLA met Florida State in the 2006 contest, then known as the Emerald Bowl. The Seminoles rallied for a 44-27 victory in an offensive showcase that produced Bowl records still in place today.

“We’re thrilled to bring UCLA back to San Francisco,” Cavalli said. “The Bruins played in our 2006 game against Florida State, and we had a great experience with Dan Guerrero and the entire UCLA family. That 2006 game was a classic matchup of two premier programs that had never met before on the gridiron. It was also our first sellout and we anticipate another big crowd at AT&T Park on New Year’s Eve.

“We are also extremely happy to have Illinois come to us and produce a Pac-12/Big Ten matchup for the first time in our history. Illinois brings a great tradition to the Bay Area and this is a wonderful chance for all the Fighting Illini alumni in Northern California to see their team as well.”

The Illini opened the 2011 season 6-0 and among its early-season triumphs was a stirring 38-35 decision over in-state rival Northwestern.

Illinois’s defense is among the Big Ten’s best. Allowing just 291.8 yards/game, the Illini was second in the conference, trailing only Michigan State and just ahead of conference champion Wisconsin. Illinois was third against the run [129.1] and second against the pass [159.1]. The Illini also rang up 36 QB sacks, second only to the Spartans’ 41.

Senior A.J. Jenkins [84-1,196-7 TD] led all Big Ten receivers in total receptions and was second overall in receiving yardage. Junior Whitney Mercilus led the Big Ten in sacks with 14.5 total, 13 of those unassisted. He is one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Sophomore LB Jonathan Brown led his team with 102 total tackles [43 unassisted, 59 assists].

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to be the first Big Ten team to go to San Francisco and play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said Illinois interim coach Vic Koenning. “Even though it’s only been around for ten years, this game has had a number of quality matchups. We are glad to become a part of the bowl’s tradition. This is a great honor and a tremendous opportunity for us.”

UCLA’s rushing offense ranked third in the Pac-12, 190.7 yards/game. The Bruins’ pass defense also was third in the conference, permitting 232.6 yards/game, bettered only by Cal & Oregon State.

UCLA’s 5-4 regular season conference record bettered that of 20 bowl-eligible teams.

Junior RB Johnathan Franklin [158-947-6 TD] led all UCLA rushers. Junior QB Kevin Prince played in 10 games overall [112-195-1,627-10 TD-7 INT], missing three due to injury. Senior WR Nelson Rosario [61-1,106-4 TD] was UCLA’s leading receiver. His 18.1 yards/catch average tied for first among Pac-12 receivers.

“On behalf of the UCLA coaching staff and players, I want to express our excitement over being offered an opportunity to continue our season in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said interim coach Mike Johnson. “The next few weeks will offer all of us associated with the Bruin football team an opportunity to grow, individually and collectively, as we prepare for the challenge that is ahead of us.

“I am very familiar with the Bay Area and know that all of us will enjoy our trip and the opportunity to compete again in a bowl game.”

UCLA and Illinois have played each other 11 previous times. The Bruins have won six times to five for the Illini. The most recent meeting came in 2004, a 35-17 UCLA victory in Champaign, IL. The teams also met in the 1984 Rose Bowl when QB Rick Neuheisel guided the Bruins to a 45-9 triumph. Illinois looks for a win over UCLA for the first time since 1964.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is the only bowl game dedicated to raising money and awareness about the issue of hunger in the United States. Kraft Foods celebrates the culmination of its Huddle To Fight Hunger campaign at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in four weeks. It is Kraft’s largest-ever branded initiative to fight hunger in America, with an ambitious goal to donate 25 million meals to Feeding America – the nation’s leading hunger relief organization – to help our neighbors in need.

BCS announces its bowl games

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
8:39
PM ET
Here are the BCS bowl pairings: (all times EDT and all games will be televised on ESPN):

Both Oregon and Stanford will represent the Pac-12.

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, January 2, Pasadena, CA, 5 p.m.: Oregon versus Wisconsin

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, January 2, Glendale, AZ, 8:30 p.m.: Oklahoma State versus Stanford

Allstate Sugar Bowl, January 3, New Orleans, LA, 8:30 p.m.: Michigan versus Virginia Tech

Discover Orange Bowl, January 4, Miami, FL, 8:30 p.m.: Clemson versus West Virginia

Allstate BCS National Championship Game, January 9, New Orleans, LA, 8:30 p.m.: Alabama versus Louisiana State

Where might the chips fall?

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
10:53
AM ET
What we now know: Oregon will play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

I love that matchup, by the way. Two teams that were just outside the national title discussion with tons of offensive star power who do things differently.

Then what?

Stanford is likely headed to the Fiesta Bowl. But who will it play? It looked like the winner of the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game until the Cowboys opened up a can of whup-butt in a 44-10 beatdown of their rival Sooners.

Now Alabama adherents are scurrying around telling folks not to do what their eyes and brains are saying to do: Put Oklahoma State opposite LSU, the most dominant No. 1 team of the BCS area, in the national title game and see what happens.

But that's another fight (and, yeah, if I were a coach, I'd rather play the Cowboys than the Crimson Tide).

The Pac-12 issue is if the Cowboys get promoted, who might play opposite Stanford? Likely the No. 2 team in the Big 12: Kansas State.

But there is a potential fly in the ointment, well-described here by Jon Wilner.
However, there is a remote chance that Stanford could get knocked out of the BCS. As the No. 4 team in the BCS standings, the Cardinal would be guaranteed a berth in all scenarios except one — the one that could become reality Sunday.

If Oklahoma State jumps Alabama, then the Crimson Tide would fall into the No. 3 spot and receive BCS protection as an at-large team.

In that case, Stanford would not be guaranteed a berth, and the Fiesta, under the letter of the BCS law, could invite someone else (best bet: Michigan). But would it? It seems highly unlikely that the Fiesta would pass on the No. 4 team in order to take a team ranked 8-10 spots lower. Never in the 13-year history of the BCS has the No. 4 team been left out.

Wilner also points out that the Fiesta Bowl's new executive director, Robert Shelton, is a Stanford graduate.

So let's assume a bowl that needs to do the right thing does so -- prioritizing merit -- and picks Stanford. Then with those two spots secure -- and the extra $6 million-plus it means for the conference -- there's the trickle down.

Washington is likely headed to the Alamo Bowl against an uncertain Big 12 opponent. First, we need to know what happens with Oklahoma State. Potential foes include Oklahoma, Baylor or Kansas State.

Then our guess is California goes to the Holiday Bowl (selected over Utah because they have the same conference record and Cal beat the Utes head-to-head). The Bears could face Baylor, Oklahoma or even Missouri or Iowa State.

Utah heads to the Sun Bowl (vs. Georgia Tech?), Arizona State goes to Las Vegas for Dennis Erickson's last game (TCU if it doesn't get a bounced into a BCS at-large berth, or Boise State if it does), and UCLA -- armed with its NCAA bowl waiver for a 6-7 record -- gets an invite to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against ... hmm... Illinois? Wyoming?

There would be an obvious angle, of course, for a UCLA-Illinois matchup.

We'll, of course, have more later on the bowls. I assume you knew that, though.

What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 14

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
10:00
AM ET
What did we learn from Week 14 of Pac-12 action?

It's Oregon: In the preseason it was "Oregon or Stanford." When Oregon lost to LSU, it became "Stanford or Oregon." But when the fog -- man, Eugene, you do have some fog -- cleared, it was the Ducks. Again. For a third consecutive time. Oregon overcame an early loss, injuries and the Andrew Luck Phenomenon to win the first Pac-12 title game. Now can the Ducks beat ...

It's Wisconsin: The first question of the bowl season is who does the conference champion play? Rose Bowl or national title game? Well, Oregon's loss to USC knocked it out of the national title debate, so that leaves the Ducks headed to the Rose Bowl. And, in a thrilling Big Ten title game, Wisconsin outlasted Michigan State. So it's Ducks and Badgers, which will be simplistically billed as speed versus power, as most Big Ten-Pac-12 matchups are.

USC-Oregon would have been fun to see: It's become an accepted fact among informed college football observers that the NCAA sanctions against USC were a travesty of justice, and the NCAA's refusal to revisit that travesty are a massive act of cowardice on the part of the organization. That's the take of all clear-thinking people. (NCAA folks, just admit you blew it. The NCAA would take a huge step toward wiping away dumbfounding hypocrisy with a moment of honest self-reflection.) We, again, point out the obvious because it would have been electric to see two top-10 teams play in Autzen Stadium on Friday to truly figure out who the best team was in the Pac-12.

Cougs are relevant again: Washington State's hiring of Mike Leach gives the program instant credibility. He's a top-20 coach who knows how to win without elite, across-the-board talent. The Cougs were already taking steps forward the past two years under Paul Wulff. Wulff collected talent that can be competitive in the Pac-12. Leach immediately puts the program back into the North Division discussion.

Uncertainty at Arizona State and UCLA: Arizona State wanted Kevin Sumlin and UCLA wanted Chris Petersen. It appears that neither is going to get its first choice. Rumors are swirling, but there is nothing of substance for either program yet. While Washington State quickly filled its post, it's uncertain whether either the Sun Devils or Bruins will hire a coach quickly. That may be due to insecurity for both athletic directors. Prolonged coaching searches are not good. Both programs need to figure things out and quickly.

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 14

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
8:30
PM ET
It now appears that the Pac-12 will produce two BCS bowl teams and two empty bowl contracts.

I don't expect UCLA to ask the Pac-12 to apply for a bowl waiver if the Bruins finish 6-7 after a loss Friday at Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. The Bruins are almost certain to be looking for a new coach. It would be extremely awkward to deal with that during bowl preparations. Further, a likely trip to the Bay Area for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl would be expensive. Probably not worth the, er, glory.

And I'm not sure the waiver would get rubber stamped, anyway. There will be more deserving teams available for the Kraft and New Mexico bowls. Heck, 10 Big Ten teams are bowl eligible.

By the way, expect some tough matchups. If Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State this weekend, the Sooners are a likely foe for Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Arizona State, with or without Dennis Erickson, probably would get TCU in Las Vegas.

Rose Bowl Game: Oregon vs. Big Ten
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs. Big 12
Valero Alamo: Washington vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: California vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: Utah vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: Arizona State vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: No team vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: No team vs. Mountain West

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 13

November, 20, 2011
11/20/11
8:30
PM ET
Things stay the same at the top with the Pac-12 bowl projections, but that's a change, because it seemed reasonable to start to look at Oregon's national title chances on Friday night when Oklahoma State lost.

No longer. The Ducks lost at home to USC, so their best possible destination now is the Rose Bowl.

The big mover is Utah. The Utes would close the season with five consecutive wins if they take care of business at home against Colorado on Saturday. That makes them the hottest and most compelling team after Oregon and Stanford. San Antonio likely will lure plenty of Utes to town, too.

After Utah, the other four bowl-eligible teams mostly arrive with a thud. No bowl wants to deal with a team that might fire its coach.

Rose Bowl Game, Jan. 2: Oregon vs. Big Ten
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2: Stanford vs. Big 12
Valero Alamo, Dec. 29: Utah vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday, Dec. 28: Washington vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun, Dec. 31: California vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas, Dec. 22: UCLA vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger, Dec. 31: Arizona State vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico, Dec. 17: No team vs. Mountain West

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 12

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
8:00
PM ET
Projecting the bowls based on the 11 weeks of games.

Rose Bowl Game: Oregon vs. Big Ten
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs. Big 12
Valero Alamo: Washington vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: Utah vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: California vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: UCLA vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: No team vs. Mountain West

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 11

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
8:35
PM ET
Projecting the bowls based on the 10 weeks of games.

Allstate BCS National Championship Game: Stanford vs. BCS team

Rose Bowl Game: Oregon vs. Big Ten

Valero Alamo: Arizona State vs. Big 12

Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Washington vs. Big 12

Hyundai Sun: Utah vs. ACC

MAACO Las Vegas: UCLA vs. Mountain West

Kraft Fight Hunger: California vs. ACC or Army

Gildan New Mexico: No team vs. Mountain West

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 10

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
8:35
PM ET
Projecting the bowls based on the nine weeks of games.

AllState BCS National Championship Game: Stanford vs. BCS team
Rose Bowl Game: Oregon vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Washington vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: Utah vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: California vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: No team vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: No team vs. Mountain West

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 8

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
8:35
PM ET
Projecting the bowls based on the eighth week of games.

Allstate BCS National Championship Game: Stanford vs. Alabama-LSU winner
Rose Bowl Game: Oregon vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Washington vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: California vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: Utah vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: No team vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: No team vs. Big 12

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 7

October, 16, 2011
10/16/11
8:35
PM ET
Projecting the bowls based on the seven weeks of games.

Rose Bowl Game: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Oregon vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: Washington vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: California vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: UCLA vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: Utah vs. Big 12

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 6

October, 9, 2011
10/09/11
12:00
PM ET
Projecting the bowls based on the sixth week of games.

Rose Bowl Game: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Oregon vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: Washington vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: California vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: UCLA vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: Utah vs. Big 12

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