Ah yes, Bowl Season in college football! This is when we get to see how teams from different conferences truly stack up against each other.
Last season the Pac-10 was 5-0 in bowls, just another postseason where they beat up on their bowl opponents after being disregarded by voters in the weekly rankings all season long. Will this be another?
Consider, the Pac-10 this season has an interconference record that looks like this:
Oregon - 2-1 (Boise State - L, Purdue - W, Utah - W)
Arizona - 2-1 (Central Michigan - W, Northern Arizona - W, Iowa - L)
Oregon State - 2-1 (Portland State - W, UNLV - W, Cincinnati - L)
Stanford - 2-1 (Wake Forest - L, San Jose State - W, Notre Dame - W)
Cal - 3-0 (Maryland - W, Eastern Washington - W, Minnesota - W)
USC - 3-0 (San Jose State - W, Ohio State - W, Notre Dame - W)
Washington - 1-2 (LSU - L, Idaho - W, Notre Dame - L)
UCLA - 3-0 (San Diego State - W, Tennessee - W, Kansas State - W)
Arizona State - 2-1 (Idaho State - W, Lousiana-Monroe - W, Georgia - L)
Washington State - 1-2 (Hawaii - L, SMU - W, Notre Dame - L)
That gives the conference a 21-9 overall non-conference record - not bad at all. It helps to have four games with Notre Dame across the conference. Here is how it broke down by conference:
ACC - 1-1
Big 12 - 1-0
Big East - 0-1
Big Ten - 3-1
SEC - 1-2
Total - 6-5
Conference USA - 1-0
Independents - 2-2
Mid-American - 1-0
Mountain West - 3-0
Sun Belt - 1-0
WAC - 3-2
Total - 11-4
Non-FBS - 4-0
Can the Pac-10 make a good showing? I think they will.
Las Vegas Bowl: Oregon State v. BYU - December 22nd, ESPN, 5pm
If you like points you should love the Vegas Bowl this year. Oregon State has one of the more balanced attacks in the nation and can beat a team in the air or on the ground. BYU boasts one of the best passing attacks in the nation and even though the Beavers are a good defense, their secondary is the weakest part (especially with the injury to starter Tim Clark). Will BYU QB Max Hall have time to throw? That's the big question. I don't think BYU can slow down the Beavers at all.
The Pick: Oregon State, 45-24
Poinsettia Bowl: California v. Utah - December 23rd, ESPN, 5pm
Cal is a tough team to read simply because you never know which team will show up. If their defense doesn't hold the Utes to a moderate game - say around 20 points or so - they may not have a chance. Their offense is completely unpredictable - and Utah is a good defense. They have allowed 20 points only three teams - all losses (TCU, San Diego State, Oregon).
The Pick: Utah, 27-20
Emerald Bowl: USC v. Boston College - December 26th, ESPN, 5pm
Will SC even care? I think they will. I think SC is embarrassed and a bit angry. They aren't that great this year, but they are still much better than a middling team from any other conference. BC faced just one ranked team all season long - Virginia Tech - and lost badly. SC should walk all over them. They should, but they won't - they'll do enough to win.
The Pick: USC, 31-23
EagleBank Bowl: UCLA v. Temple - December 29th v. Temple (ESPN, 1:30pm).
Personally I don't believe UCLA deserves to be in a bowl game, but here they are. Temple has been able to run the ball well all season, but they probably haven't faced a defense like the Bruins - except when they visited Penn State, where they were worked handily. UCLA is the most inconsistent offense in the Pac-10 with horrible quarterback play, but they should be good enough to beat Temple. And not finish the season with a bowl berth and a losing record - that would be embarrassing.
The Pick: UCLA, 31-23
Holiday Bowl: Arizona v. Nebraska - December 30th, ESPN, 5pm
Arizona has been high and low for the past few games, but they might see an incredible low in the Holiday Bowl. They have been a decent passing team and a good running team, but they aren't particularly adept at blocking for the pass. Enter Nebraska and Ndamukong Suh - easily the best defensive player this year in college football (he's already won four trophies and been a Heisman finalist!). If I had the top pick in the NFL draft this April, I wouldn't be looking at anyone else. I think Suh will make a mockery of Arizona's blocking schemes and dominate this game - but I don't think Nebraska will score much themselves because the Cats have a very good team defense. I think Arizona hits one or two big plays and that will be the difference.
The Pick: Arizona, 20-13
Sun Bowl: Stanford v. Oklahoma - December 31st, CBS, 11am
The Sooners were a popular top-five pick before the season began, but their season collapsed with the injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford. They have been mediocre across the board, while the Cardinal have the most productive rusher in college football this year (with all due respect to Bama's Heisman winner Mark Ingram - and yes, I do still think Jacquizz Rodgers is the better player) and a decent passing game. The defense is okay, but the Sooner offense isn't good. This game should be moderately entertaining because there will be a decent amount of points.
The Pick: Stanford, 41-30
Rose Bowl: Oregon v. Ohio State - January 1st, ABC, 1:30pm
The spread on this game is only about five points - for Oregon - but that's not nearly enough. The fun thing about this matchup is the pair have a common opponent: USC. Oregon blew them out, Ohio State lost to them at home. There is also much talk being made of how Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor had Oregon on his short list before becoming a Buckeye and how he could be in Jeremiah Masoli's place. If he were, he'd likely be happier after this game, because Ohio State will not be able to shut down Oregon's offense at all. Oregon has scored on some of the better defenses in the game, and Ohio State does not face offenses like this in the weak Big Ten. Oregon in a walk.
The Pick: Oregon, 48-24
This would give the Pac-10 a 6-1 bowl record, which is pretty dang good. It would also include two wins over the Big 12, one over the Big Ten, and one over the ACC. I don't have a high opinion of the Big Ten or the ACC when it comes to football, but the Big 12 wins should garner some good press for the conference.
Should you listen to my picks? Well, I am 52-14 on the season picking straight wins or losses (I'm not a gambler, don't pick against the spread - only matters who scores more points). Check back after the first of the year for the bowl recap when we can talk about another smashing success from the Pac-10.