Pac-12 goes bowling: Stanford to Rose, Oregon to Fiesta
For the third season in a row, the Pac-12 will be sending two teams to BCS bowl games. Stanford will be playing in the Granddaddy of ‘em all - the Rose Bowl - on New Year’s Day against Wisconsin, the B1G representative. Even though it has been 13 years, this might feel a little familiar for Cardinal fans: The last time Stanford went to the Rose Bowl (New Year’s Day 2000), it went up against the Badgers... and lost 17-9. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is no stranger to Pasadena in recent years, having clinched its third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl after a shockingly easy 70-31 win over Nebraska in the B1G Championship game. The Cardinal and Badgers will do battle on Jan. 1 at 2:00 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Oregon’s BCS bowl this year will be the same as Stanford’s last year - the Fiesta Bowl. It’s a juicy matchup, too, with Kansas State coming to Glendale. The Wildcats, depending on who you ask, backed out of a game against Oregon this year. For a while, it was looking like these two teams would be meeting in Miami for the national championship game, so this is sure to be a good one featuring a couple of Heisman contenders throughout the season in Oregon’s Kenjon Barner and Kansas State’s Collin Klein. All Chip Kelly knows is BCS bowls: The Ducks have played in two Rose Bowls and the BCS National Championship Game in his first three seasons as head coach. If you can’t make it to Glendale, you can watch it live Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.
UCLA lost in the Pac-12 Championship Game for the second consecutive year, but this year’s nine-win Bruin squad will head south on I-5 to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl against another kind of bear: the Baylor Bears, to be exact. Have one last look at Johnathan Franklin in a UCLA uniform before he heads off to the pros - that might bring a tear or two to the eye of a UCLA supporter, but there will be plenty more of Brett Hundley to go around. See if the quarterback can nicely cap off what has been a fantastic redshirt freshman campaign. They play Dec. 27 at 6:45 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Last year, Oregon State went 3-9 and was far away from a bowl game. This year, the Beavers produced the reciprocal of their 2011 record and are headed off to San Antonio to take on Texas in the Alamo Bowl, which will take place Dec. 29 at 3:45 p.m. PT on ESPN. The Beavers got off to a hot start with a perfect first half of the season, but tapered off, going 3-3 since then. If it's any consolation, Beavs fans, all three losses came to teams with winning records and two of those three were against BCS bowl participants Stanford and Oregon. Sean Mannion, Cody Vaz. Cody Vaz, Sean Mannion. Both of these QBs are capable of leading Oregon State to a 10th victory.
USC can end a disappointing season on a high note with a victory over Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. With 112 receptions, 1,680 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns, Marqise Lee has made a case for the best receiver in the country, and as such, is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. This is the last time he will be catching passes (at least collegiately) from Matt Barkley, who returned to Troy to try to deliver a national championship. That won’t happen, but Barkley still has a chance to go out in style on Dec. 31 at 11:00 a.m. PT on CBS.
Who doesn’t love Vegas? Washington will surely be singing its praises as it will head off to Sin City for the Las Vegas Bowl. There, the Huskies will find Boise State, perennial BCS busters and winners of the Mountain West Conference. A much-improved Huskies defense under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox played a huge role in delivering a late-season four-game winning streak that got the Huskies to seven regular season victories for the second straight year. Washington will try to get a little revenge for the conference, as Boise State took down Arizona State in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl. This bout will take place on Dec. 22 at 12:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Speaking of the Sun Devils, they will be making their second trip to the Bay Area this season. First, it was to Berkeley to beat the California Golden Bears. Now, it will be to San Francisco to take on Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Arizona State avoided a similar season-ending fate to what it endured in 2011 by winning its final two games, including a victory in the all-important Territorial Cup, thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback. Todd Graham has done a great job turning things around in Tempe as he aims to bring home an eighth victory to wrap up his inaugural season as the Sun Devils' head honcho. Watch ASU work its magic on Dec. 29 at 1:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2.
Arizona rounds out the Pac-12 teams going bowling. The Wildcats will head east to take on Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. Like the Huskies, Arizona will be in a position to get some conference come-uppance on a Mountain West squad, as the Wolf Pack won at Cal in the 2012 season opener. And, like Todd Graham, RichRod has spearheaded a football revival on his campus, leading the 'Cats to a 7-5 tally on the year. Of course, he had some serious help from dual-threat quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’Deem Carey, who is pretty scary when he touches the football. Catch this one live on Dec. 15 at 10:00 a.m. PT on ESPN - it’s the very first bowl game of the season!