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Canzano: Pac-12 bowl season is set
My bowl preview and analysis.
I covered the Alamo Bowl in 1998. It was a strange matchup. Purdue had a sophomore quarterback named Drew Brees at quarterback.
Kansas State had Michael Bishop.
The Wildcats were about to go on offense at the start of the game, but before they could run a play they did something I’ve never seen — they called a timeout. Everyone was puzzled. Then, we watched from the press box as Bishop sprinted from the sideline back to the locker room.
He forgot his helmet.
Unranked Purdue won the game in the biggest upset in Alamo Bowl history, 37-34. It came as no surprise to those who closely followed Kansas State that season.
Coach Bill Snyder said after the loss: “Tonight was the culmination of three weeks of disappointment.”
A few weeks earlier, the 11-0 Wildcats and played Texas A&M in the Big 12 championship game. Kansas State lost in double-overtime and dropped to No. 4 in the rankings.
That loss knocked the Wildcats out of the national championship game and sent them instead to San Antonio, where they encountered Brees and his teammates. I’m bringing this up because it explains the most important of all bowl-game axioms: 80 percent of success is showing up.
Which team wants to be there more?
Answer that question and you’ll do well in picking winners this postseason. The Pac-12 Conference has seven bowl-eligible teams. The bowl matchups are set.
I took a quick look at each of the conference bowl games here:
Rose Bowl (Jan. 2, 2023) — Utah vs. Penn State
• Why the Utes will win: Winning a Rose Bowl would mean a lot to Kyle Whittingham’s program. Utah left some unfinished business in losing last season in Pasadena. They come to play in big games. Ask USC. Whittingham is especially good in bowl games (11-4 all time).
• Why they could lose: Penn State won four in a row to finish the season. Also, was Utah’s “bowl game” the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas?
Cotton Bowl (Jan. 2, 2023) — USC vs. Tulane
• Why USC will win: The Trojans are banged up, but will get healthy between now and kickoff.
• Why it could lose: Lincoln Riley has an .846 win percentage in regular-season games… but is 1-3 in bowl games. The Cotton Bowl is a small consolation for a team that wanted to be in the College Football Playoff.
Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29, 2022) — Washington vs. Texas
• Why the Huskies will win: Nobody in the conference was playing better than UW at the end of the regular season. Also, Michael Penix Jr. is a star. The Huskies could use the Alamo Bowl as a showcase.
• Why they could lose: Will be a pro-Texas crowd in San Antonio.
Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 17, 2022) — Oregon State vs. Florida
• Why the Beavers will win: The Beavers play great defense and are chasing a 10-win season. Also, this is a revenge-game for the Pac-12. Florida beat Utah in Week 1.
• Why they could lose: I wonder how distracted OSU will be with recruiting during this period. Also, will any of the Beavers seniors opt out of playing in the Las Vegas Bowl?
Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28, 2022) — Oregon vs. North Carolina
• Why the Ducks will win: The Ducks are more talented and have better wins. North Carolina was 0-3 vs. ranked teams.
• Why they could lose: Oregon had its heart set on a playoff spot, will it show up to play in a Holiday Bowl? Also, will Bo Nix play?
Sun Bowl (Dec. 20, 2022) — UCLA vs. Pitt
• Why UCLA will win: Pitt played only one ranked team all season, a loss to Tennessee in September. The Bruins play in the better conference and are battle tested.
• Why it could lose: The Bruins lost two of their last three games and weren’t impressive in their only victory (over Cal). UCLA didn’t look locked in to finish the season. Will a Sun Bowl really make them more focused?
LA Bowl (Dec. 17, 2022) — Fresno State vs. Washington State
Why the Cougars will win: The Pac-12 had a 7-1 record vs. the Mountain West Conference this season. WSU fans should travel well for the LA Bowl.
Why they could lose: Jake Haener. The Bulldogs quarterback is terrific.
I expect a 4-3 bowl-game record for the Pac-12 this season. I’ll give a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks, but we all know bowl games often come down to that burning question I asked off the top: Which team really wants to be there?
How many bowl wins do you see?
Tell me in the comment section.
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