Pac-12: Emerald Bowl first take
Dec. 26, 8 p.m., (ESPN)
Raise your hand if you predicted the Emerald Bowl for USC in the preseason?
You are not alone -- the Trojans surely didn’t see this for themselves either after seven consecutive BCS bowl games as Pac-10 champions.
A four-loss season feels bad around Heritage Hall, but a five-loss one would feel worse, and that could happen if the Trojans take the Golden Eagles lightly.
BC can play D. It ranks 23rd in the nation in total defense and 18th in scoring, giving up just 19 points per game. It held Notre Dame to just 20 points in a loss.
USC’s defense has played well at times, and the Eagles don’t have much of an offense, ranking 71st in scoring and 97th in total offense.
Quarterback Dave Shinskie threw two interceptions in the first five games. He threw 11 in the next seven, including four in a loss to North Carolina.
Of course, Trojans freshman quarterback Matt Barkley faded badly late in the season, and the USC offense was decidedly mediocre by most measures over the final five games.
The most important element might be who wants it more. This is a long trip for BC, but it likely will be excited to test USC. Hard to say if the Trojans will match that excitement.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Miami, one of the nation's youngest -- and most talented teams -- appeared to hit a wall in losing its final two games, giving up an eye-popping 691 yards rushing in losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
That likely will catch Cal coach Jeff Tedford's and running back Jahvid Best's eyes. But Miami's youth also includes speed and ability, and true freshmen defensive linemen Marcus Robinson, an end, and Marcus Forston, a tackle, look like budding stars who will give the Bears' injury-riddled offensive line trouble.
The Hurricanes used two quarterbacks, Robert Marve and Jacory Harris, and both have been inconsistent this season. With youth comes turnovers, and Miami ranks 101st in the nation in turnover margin, while Cal is seventh. A lot of that is due to a huge disparity in interceptions. Miami ranks last in the nation with just four picks. The Bears are third with 23.
Moreover, it may be a challenge for a young team to travel 3,000 miles away from its comfort-zone, seeing that Miami and the Bay Area couldn't be more different. On the other hand, Cal's players already expressed disappointment they were stuck staying at home instead of traveling for a bowl game -- they finished fourth in the Pac-10 and should be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl but a business deal was made to benefit the Emerald Bowl -- so maybe it will be the Bears who show up flat.