For a conference deemed not good enough to be included in the laughable College Football Playoff, the Pacific-12 did alright in the postseason bowl parade for 2018-19. And for the record, we did pretty good with our predictions, too.
The Conference of Champions finished with three wins in seven games during bowl season, and we’re going to breakdown as we usually do after the games are over. Our 73-23 record in picking Pac-12 games this year will be hard to top next year, though.
Here we go with the final football post of the season! Enjoy, and a Happy New Year to you, of course.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The Washington State Cougars may not have won the Apple Cup or the league championship, but they will end up as the highest-ranked team in the conference when the final polls are released next week. With an 11-2 mark after an exciting 28-26 Alamo Bowl victory over a ranked Iowa State team, the Cougars set a school record for most wins in a season and should finish in the Top 10 for the first time since 2003.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
The Utah Utes had the Holiday Bowl in hand at halftime, with a 20-3 lead over Northwestern. And then the third quarter happened: The Wildcats dropped 28 points on the Utes, as Utah ended up committing a whopping six turnovers on the way to a 31-20 loss. The Utes out-gained their opponents by more than seventy yards, but they lost all four fumbles they committed, and that was the game.
The backbreaker came with Utah still up 20-10 and threatening to score again. Instead, the Utes fumbled, and Northwestern returned the ball 82 yards for a touchdown that all but killed Utah’s spirit. This was a very uncharacteristic performance by a well-coached team that won’t be forgotten in Salt Lake City any time soon.
(It also cost us a perfect record for bowl-game predictions, too, we might add!)
Big performers from the bowls
It’s appropriate that WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew II, the winner of the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year Award, should get the nod here, as his Alamo Bowl effort placed in the historical annals of the Pac-12. Minshew finished his only season with the Cougars with the conference’s single-season record for passing yards (4,776) as he threw for 299 yards and two TDs against the Cyclones, while also rushing for a huge score as well.
Despite gaining just 203 yards on offense against a nasty Michigan State defense, the Oregon Ducks won the Redbox Bowl thanks to the defensive efforts of linebacker La’Mar Winston, Jr. He led his unit with ten total tackles, including a half sack and one tackle for loss. The Ducks held the Spartans to just two field goals, despite giving up 331 yards to the MSU offense.
Unlucky Team of the Week
While the Ducks were somewhat lucky to be gifted so many blunders by the Spartans, the California Golden Bears were not so fortunate against the TCU Horned Frogs. Cal got break after break from its opponent, and then the Bears managed to give them right back—on the way to an overtime loss in the Cheez-It Bowl. Cal QBs tossed five total interceptions in a ridiculously poor effort, which is saying something considering the TCU QB had just seven completions to his own teammates … and four to Bears defenders.
Big picture heading into 2019
The Pac-12 likely will end up with just two ranked teams (Washington, WSU) next week, after starting the season with four teams in the preseason poll (Oregon, Stanford, USC, Washington). Generally, this was not a good season for the league, although the bowl wins by WSU, Oregon, and Stanford redeemed the conference a wee bit.
The Huskies will be going for their third Pac-12 championship in four seasons, and they still have the best coach in the league. But look for USC, Stanford, Oregon, and WSU to put pressure on them. Utah will be strong again, as Cal and UCLA are on the rise. The conference will be much better in 2019. Trust us.
After all, we did pretty good this year predicting stuff, didn’t we?
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!