Pac-12 2013 Bowl Game Guide
By Christopher Wuensch
No. 5 Stanford (11-2) vs. No. 4 Michigan State (12-1)
Date: Jan. 1
Where: Rose Bowl (Los Angeles)
All-Time Bowl Record: Stanford 11-11-1; Michigan State 9-14
Cardinal vs. Spartans: Michigan State 3, Stanford 2*
*Stanford beat Michigan State in 1996 Sun Bowl
Stanford In The Rose Bowl: 6-6-1
Last Rose Bowl: 2012, Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14
Michigan State In The Rose Bowl: 3-1
Last Rose Bowl: 1988, Michigan State 20, USC 17
The Skinny: Stanford has been spectacularly average not only in the postseason (11-11-1 all-time), but in the Rose Bowl (6-6-1) as well. Michigan State has fared better (3-1), but has played considerably fewer times in the fabled New Year’s Eve game.
None of that matters, however, when it comes to the grandeur of the Granddaddy Of Them All.
All signs point to this being a defensive struggle. The Spartans enter with the No. 1 defense (248.2 ypg) in the nation. Stanford counters with the Pac-12’s top defensive unit (339 ypg, No. 14 nationally).
Offensively, both teams are led by quarterbacks who post similar paltry numbers, but still manage to win games when it counts. Stanford’s Kevin Hogan has a slight (and we mean slight) advantage when it comes to production. The junior Hogan finished the regular season with 191.3 ypg to Michigan State sophomore Connor Cook's 186.4.
Stanford has played eight Rose Bowl contests that have been decided by 10 points or less. Expect a similar outcome this year.
As for the lone Cardinal postseason tie, you ask? That happened in the 1927 Rose Bowl against Alabama (7-7 final score).
No. 17 UCLA (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4)
Date: Dec. 31
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium (El Paso, Texas)
All-Time Bowl Record: UCLA 14-17-1; Va. Tech 10-16
Bruins vs. Hokies: First meeting
UCLA In The Sun Bowl: 2-1
Last Sun Bowl: 2005, UCLA 50, Northwestern 38
Virginia Tech In The Sun Bowl: 0-1
Last Sun Bowl: 1947, Cincinnati 18, Va. Tech 6
The Skinny: On paper, UCLA and Virginia Tech match up fairly even. On paper, Brett Hundley and Myles Jack are just names. On the field, they’re difference makers. Hundley led the Bruins in both passing and rushing. Jack was named the Pac-12’s freshman of the year for offense and defense. Despite the superstar qualities, the Bruins couldn’t seem to win the big game this season — dropping contests to Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford.
Virginia Tech knocked off Miami late in the season, but still lost three of its final five games to limp into the Sun Bowl. Frank Beamer’s Hokies make their 21st consecutive bowl appearance. Virginia Tech is 0-2 versus the Pac-12 in the postseason during that stretch.
The Bruins make their second straight bowl game under Jim Mora and third consecutive for the program.
Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)
When: Dec. 31
Where: Independence Stadium (Shreveport, La.)
All-Time Bowl Record: Arizona 7-8-1; Boston College 13-9
Wildcats vs. Eagles: First meeting
Neither team has played in the AdvoCare/Independence Bowl.
The Skinny: How dominating was Andre Williams out of the backfield this season for Boston College? The senior denied national runner-up Jordan Lynch a rushing title by more than 220 yards and beat out Ka’Deem Carey's per-game average by 19.2 ypg. It seems only fitting that Arizona’s Carey and Williams (3,818 rushing yards combined, Doak Walker Award finalists) square off in a bowl game. Carey won’t just be playing for a national audience to improve his draft stock, he’ll be taking handoffs with a chip on his shoulder after being denied a spot on the Heisman dais.
The Wildcats have enjoyed a resurgence of late with their fifth bowl appearance in six seasons after a nine-year postseason drought. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez seeks his second bowl win since landing in Tucson in 2012.
The Eagles haven’t won a bowl game since 2007. First-year coach Steve Addazio has the task of replacing Frank Spaziani, who failed to win a postseason game with Boston College in his final two seasons.
No. 14 Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
When: Dec. 30
Where: Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego)
All-Time Bowl Record: ASU 13-12-1; 13-21-1
Sun Devils vs. Red Raiders: Arizona State, 1-0
Arizona State In The Holiday Bowl: 0-3
Last Holiday Bowl: 2007, Texas 52, ASU 34
Texas Tech In The Holiday Bowl: 1-0
Last Holiday Bowl: 2004, Texas Tech 45, California 31
The Skinny: Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly had a breakout season, guiding the Sun Devils with 3,510 yards passing and 28 touchdowns — both good enough for third in the Pac-12. The Holiday Bowl could be an ideal spot for the junior to make a name for himself on the national stage. Past Holiday Bowl MVPs include Marshawn Lynch, Barry Sanders and Steve Young.
How’s this for an anomaly? Texas Tech employed a two-quarterback system this season between Baker Mayfield (eight games, 12 TDs) and Davis Webb (nine games, 16 TDs). Both quarterbacks finished with 2,315 yards through the air.
The Sun Devils make their third straight bowl appearance and second in as many years under Todd Graham. The Red Raiders, who ranked as high as No. 10 this season, return to the postseason for a second straight time and under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.
No. 10 Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)
When: Dec. 30
Where: Alamodome (San Antonio)
All-Time Bowl Record: Oregon 11-15; Texas 27-22-2
Ducks vs. Longhorns: Texas, 4-1
Oregon In the Alamo Bowl: First Alamo Bowl
Texas In The Alamo Bowl: 2-0
Last Alamo Bowl: 2012, Texas 31, Oregon State 27
The Skinny: Has one loss hurt anyone worse this season than Oregon’s defeat at the hands of Arizona? The Ducks went from the brink of a Rose Bowl berth to completely out of the BCS picture in the matter of one horrible Saturday in Tucson. For Oregon — a team that’s missed out on the postseason just four times in the last 25 years and hasn’t sat home during the holidays like Macaulay Culkin since 2004 — the Alamo Bowl represents a bittersweet postseason experience.
As a result, Oregon draws a Texas team with just as much to prove as fallen Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota and the Ducks. Whether Mack Brown will be at the Longhorns’ helm remains to be seen — although all signs point to an interim coach in charge of guiding Texas to its second Alamo Bowl win over a Beaver State program in as many years.
Both squads have fallen from being teams of destiny to teams that we hope to one day remember at the Alamodome.
Washington (8-4) vs. BYU (8-4)
When: Dec. 27
Where: AT&T Park (San Francisco)
All-Time Bowl Record: Washington 15-15-1; BYU 13-17-1
Huskies vs. Cougars: 4-4
Neither team has played in the Fight Hunger Bowl
The Skinny: The Steve Sarkisian era in Washington is over after five years and three bowl appearances. The Huskies, however, haven’t won a bowl game since 2010. The onus now falls on new head coach Chris Petersen to return UW to prominence. Brigham Young, conversely, hasn’t lost a bowl game since 2008 and is making its ninth straight postseason appearance.
Working in Washington’s favor is that new Huskies head coach Chris Petersen has plenty of experience coaching against BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall — as recently as Oct. 25, when Petersen’s Boise State lost, 37-20, to the Cougars. In fact, the Hunger Bowl marks a rubber match between the two coaches, who are 1-1 against each other.
Oregon State (6-6) vs. Boise State (8-4)
When: Dec. 24
Where: Aloha Stadium (Halawa, Hawaii)
All-Time Bowl Record: Oregon State 8-6; Boise State 9-4
Beavers vs. Broncos: Boise State, 3-2
Oregon State In The Hawaii Bowl: 0-0
Boise State In The Hawaii Bowl: 0-1
Last Hawaii Bowl: 2007, East Carolina 41, Boise State 38
The Skinny: Oregon State dropped its final five games. Its reward was a trip to Hawaii. Boise State entered the season in a familiar position as a favorite to win the Mountain West. They underwhelmed and finished 8-4 on the season. Same reward.
Both the Broncos (No. 19) and the Beavers (No. 25) began the season ranked in the AP Top 25. Now both are left re-examining who will be their coach next season.
Mike Reilly will likely be back next season, despite the team’s struggles. A bowl win will certainly help his cause. Reilly has taken the Beavers to the postseason in eight of his 11 years in Corvallis. Boise State is bowl-bound for the 12th-straight season and 14th time in the last 15 years. The Broncos, however, will be without head coach Chris Petersen for the first time since 2005. The 49-year-old coach left Boise State on Dec. 6 to fill the coaching vacancy at Washington. He’s replaced with Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin. The 37-year-old coach is familiar with the Broncos system, having previously served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Broncos.
Hawaii might also be the final sight of quarterback Sean Mannion and wide receiver Brandin Cooks in a Beavers uniform. The tandem combined for national-best 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Both are juniors, but no one would condone either for entering the NFL draft after the seasons they posted.
No. 25 Southern California (9-4) vs. No. 20 Fresno State (11-1)
When: Dec. 21
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas)
All-Time Bowl Record: USC 32-17; Fresno State 9-10
Trojans vs. Bulldogs: 1-1
USC In The Las Vegas Bowl: 0-1
Last Las Vegas Bowl: 2001, Utah 10, USC 6
Fresno State In The Las Vegas Bowl: 0-1
Last Las Vegas Bowl: 1999, Utah 17, Fresno State 16
The Skinny: Southern California’s return to the postseason last year resulted in a loud thud with a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. The game will mark the beginning of the Steve Sarkisian era. The former Washington coach took over for Ed Orgeron, who did most of the heavy lifting in returning the Trojans to bowl eligibility after USC fired Lane Kiffin in September.
Derek Carr, the nation’s leading passer (4,866 yards), led the Bulldogs to a Mountain West title. But the senior might have difficulty throwing on a Trojans defense that ranks 21st in the nation. Then again, perhaps not. Carr threw for 404 yards in the Mountain West championship game against a Utah State team that is statistically (19th passing defense in the nation) equivalent to the Trojans.
In a bizarre stat, this game will be a rubber match of sorts. The Trojans and Bulldogs are 1-1 all-time against one another and are both 0-1 in the Las Vegas Bowl — with both their losses coming to Utah.
Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6)
When: Dec. 21
Where: University Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.)
All-Time Bowl Record: Washington State 5-4; Colorado State 5-7
Cougars vs. Rams: First meeting
Washington State In The New Mexico Bowl: 0-0
Colorado State In The New Mexico Bowl: 1-0
Last New Mexico Bowl: 2008, Colorado State 45, Fresno State 35
The Skinny: Washington State returns to the postseason for the first time since 2003, the last time they were above .500 (10-3) for a season.
Colorado State’s bowl drought isn’t as severe, but it’s a streak that Rams fans are nonetheless relieved to see come to an end. The Rams last sniffed the postseason in 2008 with a win over Fresno State in the third-annual New Mexico Bowl (the first New Mexico Bowl not to feature New Mexico).
Quarterback Connor Halliday, who finished fourth in the nation with 4,187 passing yards, leads Wazzu.
Colorado State enters the New Mexico Bowl — the first bowl game of the postseason — with a passing defense that ranks 99th in the country.