Pac-12 Football needs to stop cutting its nose to spite its face.
When the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal came into Autzen Stadium to face the Oregon Ducks, who were ranked No. 1 on three separate polls and No. 2 in the BCS, they had one thing on their minds—winning.
Stanford had no idea how quickly the BCS would jump at the the chance to show its blatant east coast bias after Oregon joined the ranks of one-loss teams.
Not only did the Alabama Crimson Tide jump back into National Championship Game talks, but the Ducks were also leap-frogged by two other teams from the SEC with one loss on their resume; the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators.
One of the teams is merely a placeholder, as Georgia looks to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 1.
The UCLA Bruins wrapped up the Pac-12 South Division with their victory over the USC Trojans last weekend, but their opponent has yet to be determined.
Here are my projections of what teams will go where once the regular season ends.
When: November 30, 2012
When: 5 p.m. PST
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
Prediction: UCLA 38, Stanford 45
Stanford will travel this weekend to the Rose Bowl to take on the UCLA Bruins for the right to return there on New Year's Day.
I predict the Cardinal will win their sixth straight and host the Bruins six days later for the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The Bruins will lose both at home and on the road to the Cardinal, but will finish the season feeling like they earned the return to the Championship Game instead of backing into it as they did last year.
When: December 15, 2012
When: 1 p.m. EST
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Prediction: Arizona State 42, Nevada 24
The Arizona State Sun Devils football team finally achieved their sixth win last weekend at home, lambasting the Washington State Cougars 46-7, and will now have to travel to the Old Pueblo in Tucson to take on their in-state rival Arizona Wildcats.
The Sun Devils have struggled on the road and the Wildcats have been spectacular at home, but this is a rivalry game, and all bets are off. If history tells us anything about the annual Territorial Cup, it is to expect the unexpected.
Arizona State is 2-3 on the road, with close losses to Missouri and then-No. 11 Oregon State. They jumped out to an early 14-3 lead over the Beavers and a 14-7 lead over the USC Trojans a week later, but failed to compete in the second half of both games.
I predict that the Sun Devils will do the same in this game and lose a close one to Arizona.
When: December 29, 2012
When: 4 p.m. EST
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
Prediction: Arizona 31, Navy 28
With new head coach Rich Rodriguez, the Arizona Wildcats vowed a much improved product in their football team.
He delivered at home, beating the No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys by 21, the Washington Huskies by 45 and the No. 9 USC Trojans by three.
The Wildcats had a stroke of luck this year, only having to travel for four games. They were blown out at the No. 3 Oregon Ducks 49-0, lost an overtime shootout to the No. 18 Stanford Cardinal 54-48, were humiliated by the UCLA Bruins 66-10 and were trailing a bad Utah Utes team 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Arizona will win the Territorial Cup game on the day after Thanksgiving over the Arizona State Sun Devils and finish at 8-4 (5-4). Although they will finish above USC, they will be skipped over and head to the Bay area to take on the Navy Midshipmen.
When: December 22, 2012
When: 3:30 p.m. EST
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
Prediction: USC 48, Boise St. 45
Matt Barkley was projected to be drafted in the Top Five of the 2012 NFL Draft if he decided to forgo his senior season. He would have been part of arguably the best QB draft since the hallowed 1983 class, but he stayed in school.
As the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, the USC Trojans looked as if they had it all going in their favor. In Week 3, they traveled to Palo Alto and lost a close 21-14 game to the Stanford Cardinal.
After losing their No. 2 ranking, they hit the soft part of their schedule and won their next four games including a win over a tough Washington Huskies team that had just beaten aforementioned Stanford.
The Trojans wound up on the losing end of two consecutive shootouts against the Arizona Wildcats and Oregon Ducks scoring 36 and 51 points in losses.
They finish their season with their two biggest rivalries, the UCLA Bruins and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.The loss to UCLA not only cost them the Pac-12 South crown, it also cost them quarterback Barkley for the game against No. 1 Notre Dame.
Everybody and their brother is projecting that Washington will be playing in this game, but I believe the Sun Bowl would rather have the Huskies over a reeling Trojan team.
Losing four of their last five regular season games was not how Matt Barkley wanted to end his college career, but hopefully he will be able to return in the postseason finale against Boise State.
When: December 31, 2012
When: 2 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Washington 17
The Washington Huskies have returned from the dead. After losing three straight games and a record of 3-4(1-3), the Huskies regrouped and reloaded.
They were embarrassed by the Arizona Wildcats 52-17 in Tucson and bounced back to beat the No. 7 Oregon State Beavers, then set the cruise control as they went on to beat the bottom feeders of the Pac-12.
I predict that they will have no problem next week in Pullman and will finish the year with a respectable 8-4 (6-3) in the the tough North division.
The unfortunate part of playing straight cellar dwellers is that they will get soft and when the time comes to play a tough team like the Virginia Tech Hokies, they will be out matched in El Paso.
When: December 27, 2012
When: 9:45 p.m. EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Prediction: Oregon State 38, Texas Tech 31
The true surprise team out of the Pac-12 has to be the Oregon State Beavers. Their season started a week late since Nicholls State was recovering from the effects of Hurricane Isaac.
The game was rescheduled for December 1, a day after the Pac-12 Championship Game was scheduled. That's a sure sign that nobody in the Conference, including Oregon State thought that they had a chance of playing in the Championship Game.
Starting the season at 7-0 with victories over No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 19 UCLA, the Beavers were the "Cinderella Team That Could."
Losing two of their last four has brought the team back down to Earth, and they still have to face their toughest challenge yet—hosting the Civil War and the No. 5 Oregon Ducks.
I predict that the Beavers will lose at home to Oregon as Chip Kelly and the Ducks will be fighting to maintain their elite status and a BCS Bowl game.
Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz will lead them over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a close game with plenty of scoring and tons of intriguing story lines.
When: December 29, 2012
When: 6:45 p.m. EST
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Prediction: UCLA 41, Oklahoma State 34
In its third year of Pac-10/12 affiliation, the Alamo Bowl hosts the No. 2 team in the Pac, but will have the No. 3 team this year due to BCS invitations.
The UCLA Bruins football team has been a true roller coaster ride this year with new head coach Jim Mora, Jr. and freshman quarterback, Brett Hundley.
They topped the current Big Ten leader Nebraska Cornhuskers in Week 2, then lost to the upstart Oregon State Beavers two weeks later.
The ride continued as they eked out a last second victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils, then blew out the Arizona Wildcats at home. They repeated themselves the next two weeks, nearly escaping victory against the lowly Washington State Huskies but going on to beat cross-town rivals, the No. 18 USC Trojans.
Five straight victories for UCLA earned them the Pac-12 South crown, but that is where it will end for the Bruins. I predict them losing two straight to the Stanford Cardinal and finishing the the regular season at 9-3 (6-3).
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are no strangers to the Alamo Bowl, besting the Arizona Wildcats in 2010. The Bruins will recover from the consecutive losses to the Cardinal and win in San Antonio in grand style.
When: January 3, 2013
When: 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Prediction: Oregon 44, Kansas State 21
After last weekend's upset at home to the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal, the Oregon Ducks went from hosting the Pac-12 Championship Game and playing for the National Title to missing out on the Pac-12 Championship as well as the Rose Bowl.
As much as I would have loved to see the Ducks play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game, that is not looking like it is going to happen.
Oregon coasted through the season, resting their starters in the second half and still managed to score 49 or more points in eight of their 11 games.
I predict that they will go to Corvallis with something to prove and hang a huge total on the No. 15 Oregon State Beavers to prove to the BCS voters that they deserve better than the current No. 5 ranking.
Kansas State and Heisman Trophy-hopeful quarterback Collin Klein will be dismantled in Glendale and the Ducks will finish a near-perfect season.
When: January 1, 2013
When: 5 p.m. EST
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Prediction: Stanford 24, Nebraska 17
What a long, strange trip it's been for the Stanford Cardinal. After being shocked by a pesky Washington Huskies team in Week 4, the Cardinal have played one of the toughest schedules in the country.
They started with a victory over the No. 2 USC Trojans, then traveled to South Bend and lost to the No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in overtime.
They went back and forth in Tucson, finally besting the Arizona Wildcats 54-48 in overtime, and have won five straight, including wins over the No. 11 Oregon State Beavers and the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
Next up for Stanford is the No. 17 and Pac-12 South champion UCLA Bruins. I predict that they will continue their hot streak and beat the Bruins twice in six days, once in the Rose Bowl and again at home in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The battle in the Granddaddy of them all will be a hard fought one with limited scoring but plenty of excitement.