Juron Criner had half of a record-breaking game.
Photo by Kelvin Kuo/US Presswire

The list of Pac-10 contenders got significantly smaller. The bowl bubble shrank as well. Bowl travel budgets will have to get bigger. And Juron Criner’s L.A. day was both big and small.

It was Reality Saturday for the last couple pretenders in the Pac-10 race. The Survivor Rankings assess the damage:

1. Oregon
2. Oregon State
3. ARIZONA
4. Stanford
X. Cal
X. Washington
X. Arizona State
X. UCLA
X. Washington State
X. USC

Two teams have been voted out as both Cal and Washington suffered embarrassing defeats. When you fall three games behind the conference leader and your senior quarterback gets injured, chances are it’s not your year.

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The bowl bubble watch also took a hit:

ALREADY IN:
Oregon (8-0)
Stanford (7-1)
Arizona (7-1)

BUBBLE IN:
OSU (4-3)
Cal (4-4)

BUBBLE OUT:
ASU (3-4*)
Washington (3-5)
UCLA (3-5)

(*ASU’s second FCS win not included.)

I am officially predicting the Pac-10 fails to fill all six of its bowl slots. I have OSU beating UCLA and WSU to finish with seven wins, Cal beating the Washington schools to get to six wins, Washington beating UCLA and WSU to finish with five wins, ASU beating UCLA to end up at four eligible wins, and UCLA beating nobody to stay at three wins.

The good news for the fans of the top three teams is they can already contemplate bowl travel plans.

Coaches and players set themselves up for failure if they don’t completely focus on their one-game season each Saturday but fans have no choice but to look ahead when it comes to bowl season. There are important questions to be answered: Can I get off work? Do we really need that new washing machine? My kids can just reopen last year’s presents, right?

Here is the 2010-’11 Pac-10 bowl schedule:

Bowl Location Pick Date Time (Local) Vs.
Las Vegas Las Vegas 5th Wed. Dec. 22 6 p.m. MWC
Alamo San Antonio 2nd Wed. Dec. 29 7:15 p.m. Big 12
Holiday San Diego 3rd Thu. Dec. 30 7 p.m. Big 12
Sun El Paso 4th Fri. Dec. 31 12 p.m. ACC
Kraft Fight Hunger San Francisco 6th Sun. Jan. 9 6 p.m. WAC

There’s also a game on New Year’s Day but I figure you can find that one on your own if need be.

As tough as it’s going to be for the Pac-10 to find six bowl eligible teams you would think Arizona wouldn’t slide past the Vegas Bowl, but the only way to ensure that is to win more games.

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Did someone say win? It’s time for your UCLA bonus thoughts!

The list of Arizona’s top 10 single-game receiving performances is a flat one. In 1996 Jeremy McDaniel caught 14 passes in the 56-55 overtime game at Cal. Behind him are seven different guys who each made 12 receptions in a game 10 different times including David Roberts once and Juron Criner twice.

Criner caught 8 passes in the first half against UCLA and was well on his way to the greatest receiving day in school history…except he didn’t have a single reception in the 2nd half. I guess that makes his game half perfect.

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The red pants are now 4-0 when worn with the white helmets.

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The story of this game was 3rd down. Arizona built its lead in large part because it converted eight of its first 11 3rd-down opportunities. The Wildcats struggled to hold onto their lead because they failed on their final five attempts on 3rd down.

UCLA’s second touchdown came after the Bruins converted a 3rd-and-13. The flea-flicker TD was a couple plays after Richard Brehaut scrambled for 10 yards on 3rd-and-7. When you get stopped on 3rd down and you can’t get stops on 3rd down your chances of winning start to go down.

Fourth down was kinder to the Cats thanks to Jake Fischer’s fake punt but the play was almost a disaster. D’Aundre Reed missed his block giving a UCLA defender a clear path into the backfield but the Bruin didn’t see where the snap went so he ran right past Fischer. That’s where the element of surprise is your best friend.

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Keola Antolin was already the official starting running back but he carried an extra-heavy workload when Nic Grigsby went out early with an ankle injury. Antolin is now the team leader in rushing and he has scored seven touchdowns in the last four games.

Greg Nwoko certainly isn’t the home run threat that Grigsby is but he reminded people he can move the pile between the tackles and he’s a nice receiver out of the backfield. Add Nwoko to the list of guys who have immediately contributed when one of the front line players went down.

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UCLA found some success late in the game by blitzing Matt Scott and forcing him to make quick decisions and accurate throws from the pocket. The general strategy against Nick Foles is just the opposite: drop extra defenders into coverage since he’s not a threat to run. If Foles does come back against Stanford how will he adjust when the short throws are taken away?

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Why is Stanford favored by nine points against Arizona instead of the typical three or four? When Jim Harbaugh’s boys get on a roll they destroy people. Arizona had a strong 30-point win against Washington and a decent 8-point victory vs. UCLA, but the Cardinal beat those two teams by a combined score of 76-0.

You can score points against Stanford (USC put up 35 and even WSU scored 28) but no one has been able to stop Andrew Luck and the Cardinal offense. Can Arizona’s strong run defense make Stanford one-dimensional? Can the UA secondary play that one dimension better than it did against Iowa, Oregon State and UCLA?

I know your travel plans for Saturday include tuning in to find out.

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