Conference Bowl Match-ups Appear Tougher

Now that Rick Neuheisel's UCLA team has slid into a post-season game with a 3-6 league record, the Pac-10 bowl schedule is set with seven teams involved. It will open with Oregon State taking on BYU on Dec. 22nd in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. That is the same BYU team that will host the Washington Huskies to open next season, so it will at least hold some significance to Husky players and fans.

I really thought the Beavers played one of their best games of the season against the Huskies in early November, and the neighbors to James and Jacquizz Rodgers will attest that OSU is for real. It will be an important game for the Huskies to watch just to see how Oregon State's defense handles the Cougar offense and how they use their speed on offense.

The Beavers have emerged as a real contender for next year with both the Rodgers brothers returning. Those two skill players and a strong line should give them an excellent chance to take down BYU just as Arizona did last year.

Next up will be Cal on Dec. 23rd, who after their debacle in Seattle fell all the way to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Actually it's the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (that's a mouthful) and takes the honor of the longest named bowl of the bowl season. Cal will be playing Utah, and that appears to be a good match for them in this lower-lower tier bowl. If Jahvid Best plays then I like the Bears' chances, but he is probably going pro anyway so he may skip this bowl.

The Vegas and Poinsettia Bowls will be followed by the Emerald Bowl, played on Dec 26th in San Francisco, and I'm sure their bowl committee was thrilled to see USC fall into their lap. The Trojans will square off against Boston College and should take the Pac-10 to 3-0 if the Beavers and Bears do their jobs. USC still has a good defense and usually plays well in bowl games. Besides, that is a long flight for BC.

Dec 29th is another big bowl date for this conference, when UCLA plays Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C. Now obviously I'm kidding, but I'd never heard of this bowl until the Bruins landed in it. In fact, the only thing I know about Temple football is that comedian, Bill Cosby, went there, and I think they are from Philly. As in cheese steak.

That brings up the whole non-conference scheduling thing again, and it's obvious that some schools in this conference like UCLA, Arizona, Oregon State, and Cal understood this when they scheduled for wins rather than for dollars, like the former athletic directors at Washington have done for the last two decades.

After those four lower bowls, the Pac-10 will step it up for their final three, with Arizona playing Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, Stanford playing Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl and finally Oregon playing Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Only the Rose will be played in the new year, leaving this conference again with only one team out of the 26 playing on or after the first of January.

These three games are all quality match-ups, and the way Nebraska and Oklahoma ended their seasons it could be tough for the conference to go undefeated in bowls as it did last year.

I am still upset about the Huskies losing to the Bruins the way they did in early November. To see UCLA get to a bowl game with a ridiculous 3-6 conference record sort of cheapens a bowl nomination to me.

Speaking of being ridiculous, the bowl game set-up by this conference certainly falls into that category. All their talk about being the conference of champions obviously doesn't apply to the sport of football. The fact that this conference plays everyone else in league makes it almost impossible for there ever to be an undefeated Pac-10 team in the national championship, at least until Congress takes over and demands they break from the BCS and have some sort of a playoff system.

Until that happens, you will always see the SEC and Big 12 getting in teams because of the fact that they have so many votes involved.

My guess is the conference will still end up 5-2 or 4-3 in bowl games and Oregon beating the Buckeyes will be the marquee win. The Ducks had one of the best seasons in the history of their program and overcame that terrible fiasco at Boise State. I know it's blasphemy to even suggest the Ducks winning that game, but until someone answers the puzzle of Chip Kelly's offense then I'm afraid they will just keep outscoring people.

Stanford beat them by scoring over 50 points, so maybe that's the answer.

Jim Heacock, who I coached with at Washington, is Ohio State's Defensive Coordinator, and is already having sleepless nights trying to figure out how to stop Jeremiah Masoli and that Duck spread attack. If he does then I hope he shows everyone else in this conference the secrets. I'm rooting for the Buckeyes, but I think the Ducks are going to win because they can simply score more points.

Not going to a bowl continues to haunt the development of Washington's program and the 15 missed extra practices have now grown to 105 missed practices since 2003, and that must stop this coming year. Considering how important it will be to develop this incoming class, a bowl game becomes an almost must for next year.

For right now though, they have, to quote the late, great Merl Saunders, to keep on keeping on, and that means recruiting. Having no bowl to play for right now hurts, but with the latest commitment from a 10-star recruit we've got to be getting closer. Hopefully, at this time next year we are all making plans to get to Pasadena for the New Year. How cool would that be? Top Stories