Pac-12 Football: Championship Game and Bowl Predictions
Pac-12 football is finally getting the respect that it deserves. The Oregon Ducks are ranked No. 1 in the both the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls. They are .0177 percentage points behind the Kansas State Wildcats in the all-important BCS Standings and look to play in the BCS National Championship if they can finish the season as strongly as they have started.
Here is the breakdown of how I believe the Pac-12 will finish its final two games and where they will be spending their postseason.
With games remaining against the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal and at home against the No. 16 Oregon State Beavers, the Ducks have a tough road to hoe in front of them.
We saw freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota turn on the offense as he played a full game against the USC Trojans.
Running back sensation Kenjon Barner is burning up the conference and building an impressive resume for the Heisman Trophy.
I see the Oregon Ducks winning out and going to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami, FL on January 7, 2013.
The final two games remaining for the Stanford Cardinal are going to test their mettle and resiliency. Coming off four straight wins, the Cardinal are going to hit a brick wall and lose this Saturday night under the lights in Autzen Satadium when they meet the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
The loss will build character and make them desirous to prove that they still deserve a BCS bowl game, and they will be rewarded when they beat the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl in their regular-season finale.
UCLA will win the Pac-12 South Division and go on to lose to Oregon, thus giving the next-best record in the Pac-12 to Stanford. Although there is a lot of talk of a non Pac-12 team receiving the invite, I believe it be Stanford who will make a return trip to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
Oregon State Beavers
The Oregon State Beavers are reeling after losing two of their past three games by three and four points respectively.
Thankfully for them, two of their next three games only have four wins between the two of them. Unfortunately, the other game is against in-state rival and No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
Although they will lose to Oregon, they will finish the season 9-3 and 6-3 in conference. They also hold the tiebreaker against the UCLA Bruins, having beaten them in Week 3.
This will send them to the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas on Dec. 29.
This weekend is huge for the No. 17 UCLA Bruins as they take on their cross-town rivals, the No. 18 USC Trojans. I see this being a hard-fought battle won in the trenches and UCLA coming out victorious.
The Bruins will follow up this victory with a loss to the Stanford Cardinal but will still be crowned the Pac-12 South winner when USC loses its final two games.
They will take the short trip down to San Diego to play in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.
The Washington Huskies had a heavily front-loaded schedule where they lost three in a row and four out of six.
They have currently won three straight and are back in the BCS rankings at No. 25. They face the two worst teams in the Pac-12 to finish the season with a record of 8-4 and 6-3 in conference.
This will allow them to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on New Year's Eve at 11 a.m. PT.
Much like the University of Washington Huskies, the Arizona Wildcats had a tough midseason slump losing to three straight ranked teams.
Aside from the 66-10 embarrassment in the Rose Bowl to the UCLA Bruins, the Wildcats have won three of four in impressive fashion.
Their remaining schedule has them visiting Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City to take on the 4-6 Utah Utes. They will win on the road and then defeat their in-state rival Arizona State Sun Devils and take home the Territorial Cup.
Finishing at 8-4 and 5-4 in conference, the Wildcats also hold the tiebreaker over the USC Trojans and will play in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22.
Oh how the mighty have fallen...or will fall. With their remaining games against the surging No. 17 UCLA Bruins and the undefeated No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the future looks bleak for Matt Barkley and the Men of Troy.
The wheels came off in Tucson, and they went on to lose at home in the shootout to the No. 2 Oregon Ducks. They regrouped in the second half against the Arizona State Sun Devils to save some face and respectability.
However, it be the last victory for Lane Kiffin and company as they will finish the year with two straight losses and will make a trip to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 29.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Thank goodness for the Washington State Cougars. After such a great start for Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils at 5-1, the wheels came off and the team broke down.
After four straight losses to ranked teams, the Sun Devils are fortunate to host the Cougars at home this weekend and get the coveted sixth victory to become bowl-eligible.
That will be be their final regular-season victory and some will even call the season a success considering everything that the program has been through.
The Territorial Cup loss to the Arizona Wildcats will be gut-wrenching but will be necessary to build the character required to build the team together.
They will get a trip to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque on Dec. 15.