It’s going to be a different holiday season for the Arizona Wildcats.
Three years isn’t long in the grand scheme of bowl things but it was the second-longest active streak in the old Pac-10 and holiday traveling was a welcome addition to the life of UA football fans.
We’ll have to get by on watching other teams play in bowl games, and this year the Granddaddy of Them All is by far the biggest one as far as Oregon and the rest of the Pac-12 is concerned.
Here is the 2011-’12 Pac-12 bowl TV schedule (all times Arizona/Mountain):
|Sat Dec 17||New Mexico||–||Temple/Wyo.||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thu Dec 22||Las Vegas||ASU||Boise St.||6 p.m.||ESPN|
|Wed Dec 28||Holiday||Cal||Texas||6 p.m.||ESPN|
|Thu Dec 29||Alamo||Washington||Baylor||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat Dec 31||Sun||Utah||Georgia Tech||12 p.m.||CBS|
|San Francisco||UCLA||Illinois||1:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Mon Jan 2||Rose||Oregon||Wisconsin||3:10 p.m.||ABC|
|Fiesta||Stanford||Oklahoma St.||6:30 p.m.||ESPN|
New Mexico Bowl
Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)
This is where I envisioned traveling to this year but the Cats fell two wins short. The bowl is missing a Pac-12 team altogether because Stanford was too good and USC was too lacking in institutional control.
Las Vegas Bowl
ASU (6-6) vs. #7 Boise State (11-1)
Biggest head-scratcher: A top-10 team playing before Christmas or coaching vagabond Dennis Erickson getting replaced after a 6-6 season by coaching vagabond Todd Graham after a 6-6 season?
(Speaking of Las Vegas, I miss you, muddy tailgating parking lot and freezing stadium!)
Cal (7-5) vs. #24 Texas (7-5)
This is the Longhorns’ fifth trip to San Diego in the 2000s. They are 2-2 in their previous four visits and were last seen beating up on Erickson’s first ASU team. Did you know almighty Texas had a losing all-time bowl record as late as 2003 (20-21-2 before winning five of its last six)?
(Speaking of San Diego, I miss you, rainy fireworks!)
Washington (7-5) vs. #12 Baylor (9-3)
This game took a step up in stature when Baylor’s Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy. The good news for the Huskies is Heisman winners have gone on to win their bowl game (and not have it later vacated) only twice in the last eight years and three times in the last 11. Baylor fans will counter with the Heisman winner being bowl victorious the last two seasons. Washington fans will re-counter with that only working if you’re an SEC team. So there.
(Speaking of remembering the Alamo, I miss you, River Walk and Davy Crockett!)
Utah (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (8-4)
The Utes’ conference-best bowl streak is now at nine years. Utah is undefeated in bowl games since 1999 when they don’t have to play Boise State.
San Francisco Bowl
UCLA (6-7) vs. Illinois (6-6)
There are no jokes left to be made about this game.
#5 Oregon (11-2) vs. #10 Wisconsin (11-2)
With three straight Pac-12 championships Oregon has established itself as the New USC (although the Current USC looked a lot like the Old USC this year). The big difference between the Chip Kelly Ducks and the Pete Carroll Trojans, however, is USC won the big games while the O on the Duck helmets stands for O-fer. Carroll went 6-1 in BCS bowl games with each win coming by at least two touchdowns. (Hold on, this is important enough to deserve a second paragraph.)
Oregon lost the Rose Bowl two years ago and lost the BCS Championship Game last year. Throw in the loss to LSU to open this season and Nike U has not been able to Just Do It on the big stage. When the Pac-10 was labeled “USC and the Little-9” Pac fans didn’t care because the Trojans carried conference pride from coast to coast.
If the Ducks once again fail at the BCS level the jokes will be about “Little Oregon and the Littler-11.”
#4 Stanford (11-1) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (11-1)
Two teams that were one win short of playing for the national championship. The Cowboys can conceivably win the Associated Press title if they win big and Alabama wins ugly, but I think (hope) Stanford is too good to let that happen.
* * *
The oddsmakers have the Pac-12 representative as the underdog in six of the seven bowls. If Oregon and Stanford win, the bowl season is a success no matter what happens in the other games. If Oregon and two other schools in the non-BCS bowls win I’m calling it a victory. If Oregon doesn’t win, well, at least USC returns from banishment next year.
(I miss you, bowl traveling. RichRod, get on that.)
– – – – –