This Week in Pac-12 Football - Postseason
EARLY BIRDS: The Pac-12 hauled in an impressive group of student athletes in the Early Signing Period that concluded on Friday. According to the 24/7 Composite, two 5-star recruits signed with the Pac-12, both at USC, with #7 overall prospect CB Domani Jackson and #33 overall prospect RB Raleek Brown. Jackson and Brown were teammates at Mater Dei HS in Southern California.
Other Top 100 recruits to sign in the Pac-12 include ARIZONA WR Tetairoa McMillan (#46, a 5-star recruit on Rivals.com), USC Safety Zion Branch (#47), and STANFORD Edge David Bailey (#71). 7 of the Top 10 recruits in California signed during the Early Signing Period with 6 of those 7 picking Pac-12 schools.
2022 SCHEDULE RELEASED: The 2022 schedule was released on Thursday with a 9-game conference schedule and a non-conference schedule that includes 8 games against Power 5 opponents (including 3 against Alliance members from the Big Ten), 3 games against Notre Dame, 13 games against Group of Five opponents and 2 games against BYU. The season begins on Thursday, September 1 with ARIZONA STATE hosting NAU and end with the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, presented by 76, on Friday, December 2 once again at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
DAN’S THE MAN: OREGON named Dan Lanning as their new head coach. Lanning has spent the last 4 seasons at Georgia including the last 3 as the team’s defensive coordinator. Georgia had the nation’s top defense during the regular season (9.5 PPG allowed) and Lanning will coach the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff. The 2-time Broyles Award finalist has previous experience in the Pac-12 with Arizona State as a graduate assistant in 2012 and their on-campus recruiting coordinator in 2013.
ALL-AMERICANS: OREGON’s Kayvon Thibodeaux became the 4th player in school history and first Oregon defensive player to be named unanimous All-American after being selected first team by the 5 official selectors. The Pac-12 had 2 more consensus All-Americans with UTAH’s Devin Lloyd making first team on 4 of the 5 lists and Oregon’s Verone McKinley III first team on 3.
IN THE TRENCHES: The 2021 Morris Trophy went to Utah’s Mika Tafua on Defense and Nick Ford on Offense, the fourth time teammates have swept this award. This award is given to the top offensive and defensive linemen in the Pac-12 each and is voted on by their peers with the league’s offensive linemen voting for the defensive award and the league’s defensive linemen voting for the offensive award.
AROUND THE PAC-12 BOWLS
JIMMY KIMMEL LA BOWL presented by STIFEL
OREGON STATE (7-5, 5-4) vs UTAH STATE (10-3, 6-2)
Sat., Dec. 18 • 4:30 pm PT • ABC
OREGON STATE: First bowl game since defeating Boise State in the 2013 Hawai’i Bowl. 2-0 under Jonathan Smith in games played in Los Angeles, including their win at USC this season, the Beavers’ first victory there since 1960. RB B.J. Baylor leads the Pac-12 with 1,259 rushing yards and looking to become the first Beaver to lead the conference in rushing since Steven Jackson in 2003. Converted 50.3% of their 3rd downs in the regular season which was 2nd best in the Pac-12 and 6th best in FBS. Allowed just 40 TFL on offense this season, the 2nd fewest in FBS
UTAH STATE: 0-3 all-time against Oregon State with the last meeting coming in 1998. Will be facing a Pac-12 team in a bowl game for the first time in school history. In his first year at Utah State, Head Coach Blake Anderson led the Aggies to just the fourth 10+ win season in program history. RB Calvin Tyler Jr. led the team with 764 rushing yards and 6 rushing TD this season. It’s Tyler Jr.’s first season with the Aggies after playing for Oregon State from 2017 to 2020.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION HOLIDAY BOWL
UCLA (8-4, 6-3) vs #18 NORTH CAROLINA STATE (9-3, 6-2)
Tues., Dec. 28 • 5:00 pm PT • FOX
UCLA: Playing in their first bowl game under Chip Kelly and making their 2nd all-time appearance in the Holiday Bowl (2012 vs Baylor). First ACC opponent since Virginia in 2015. Looking for their first 9-win season since going 10-3 in 2014. Ended the regular season with a 3-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 148-67 with at least 42 points in each game. 8-0 this season when rushing for over 200 yards, 0-4 when held to 200 or less. RB Zach Charbonnet career-high 13 rushing TD this season including 6 over the final 4 games.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE: 0-2 all-time vs UCLA with the last meeting coming in 1960. First time an ACC team will play in the Holiday Bowl. Last played a Pac-12 team in the 2017 Sun Bowl when they defeated Arizona State. Looking for their first 10-win season since going 11-3 in 2002. Finished this season winning 4 of their last 5 games. OT Ikem Ekwonu was named a unanimous first-team All-American.
VALERO ALAMO BOWL
#14 OREGON (10-3, 7-2) vs #16 OKLAHOMA (10-2, 7-2)
Wed., Dec. 29 • 6:15 pm PT • ESPN
OREGON: Playing in the Alamo Bowl for the 3rd time, splitting the previous 2 appearances. 5th straight season playing in a bowl game and have made the postseason in 23 of the last 25 seasons. Bryan McClendon is the interim head coach for this game, following the departure of Mario Cristobal. QB Anthony Brown led the Pac-12 with 38 completions of 20+ yards this season. RB Travis Dye had at least 100 scrimmage yards in 8 of the last 10 games and finished with 17 total TD (15 rush, 2 rec)
OKLAHOMA: Second time playing Oregon in a bowl game, beating the Ducks in the 2005 Holiday Bowl. 6-1 all-time against Oregon. Playing in a bowl for the 23rd straight season, 2nd longest active streak in FBS. Have not lost more than 2 games in a season since 2014 when they went 8-5. Bob Stoops is the interim head coach at Oklahoma for this game after Lincoln Riley left for USC.
SRS DISTRIBUTION LAS VEGAS BOWL
ARIZONA STATE (8-4, 6-3) vs WISCONSIN (8-4, 6-3)
Thurs., Dec. 30 • 7:30 pm PT • ESPN
ARIZONA STATE: 3rd appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl and 2nd time under Herm Edwards. Have won their last 4 games against Big Ten opponents and first bowl game against a Big Ten team since 2004 Sun Bowl (Purdue). Looking to win 9 games for the first time since going 10-3 in 2014. 7 of their 8 wins this season were by 15 points or more. QB Jayden Daniels has 670 rushing yards this season, the most by an ASU QB since at least 1996. Defense held opponents under 400 total yards in 10 of their 12 games this season.
WISCONSIN: 1-3 all-time against the Sun Devils and lost their last meeting in 2013. Playing in a bowl game for the 20th straight season, the 3rd longest active streak in FBS, but 1-3 against Pac-12 teams in those bowl games. First ever Big Ten team to play in the Las Vegas Bowl. Held 5 opponents this season to 7 points or less. Had a 7-game winning streak snapped in their final game of the season at Minnesota.
TONY THE TIGER SUN BOWL
WASHINGTON STATE (7-5, 6-3) vs MIAMI (FL) (7-5, 5-3)
Fri., Dec. 31 • 9:30 am PT • CBS
WASHINGTON STATE: Looking to win 8 games for the first time since 2018 when they went 11-2. Not including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, this is the 6th straight year the Cougars have made a bowl game. Prior to this streak, Washington State had never made a bowl game more than 2 seasons in a row.
QB Jayden de Laura leads the Pac-12 with 2,757 pass yards and 23 pass TD this season. 2-0 all-time in the Sun Bowl. 88 points off of takeaways, most in the Pac-12 this season.
MIAMI (FL): Rematch of the 2015 Sun Bowl which Washington State won 20-14 in their only previous meeting. Have lost 10 of their last 11 bowl games overall. New head coach Mario Cristobal will not coach the team in the bowl game instead will be led by interim head coach Jess Simpson. This is their 3rd time in the Sun Bowl and all 3 times will be led by an interim head coach.
ROSE BOWL GAME presented by CAPITAL ONE VENTURE X
#11 UTAH (10-3, 8-1) vs #6 OHIO STATE (10-2, 8-1)
Sat., Jan. 1 • 2:00 pm PT • ESPN
UTAH: First ever appearance in the Rose Bowl after winning their first ever Pac-12 Championship. 3rd ever appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl, winning both the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and 2009 Sugar Bowl. Pac-12 teams are 6-2 in the Rose Bowl since 2012 and 10-4 since 2004. Looking to win 11+ games for the 2nd time since joining the Pac-12 (2019) and 4th time in program history. 9-1 this season with Cameron Rising as the starting QB. RB Tavion Thomas with a school record 20 rushing TD this season including 18 in the last 8 games he’s played. Butkus Award finalist Devin Lloyd has a career-high 106 tackles with 22.0 TFL this season, 2nd most in FBS.
OHIO STATE: Making their 16th appearance in the Rose Bowl which is 3rd most behind USC (34) and Michigan (20). Their 8 Rose Bowl wins are tied for 2nd with Michigan behind USC (25). Won their only previous meeting with Utah back in 1986. Their loss to Oregon earlier this season snapped an 8-game win streak against Pac-12 opponents. Have won their last 5 bowl meetings with Pac-12 schools with the last loss coming in the 1985 Rose Bowl against USC.