2-5. Ouch. 2-5 was the Pac-10’s bowl record two years ago in 2009 which lead to a ton of West Coast hate and USC+9 Dwarfs jokes two years ago. However with a rejuvenated summer of 2010, Larry Scott re-branded the Pac-10, which included a tour of New York City with all 10 coaches, plus an exclusive ESPN interview with the conferences 4 premier quarterbacks at the time: Matt Barkley, Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, and Nick Foles. Cal fans remember Kevin Riley believing he was left out of the invite list and was “better than all those guys. ”
This year however, the Pac-12 was underdog in 6 out of the 7 games and things weren’t looking good for the conference heading into 2012, with Utah’s miracle come from behind win, the only contest the conference could hang its hat on for the season. Stanford and Oregon had a chance to prove that the conference’s poor bowl record was more a product of difficult match-ups: ranging from reasons such as Boise State getting squeezed and the Big-12 mysteriously getting only 1 BCS bid despite being Sagarin’s #1 conference. Oregon was finally able to get the conference off the snide showing it had the speed and skill sets to beat a “much more physical” Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl. They were also able to get the important stops on Montae Ball when they needed to even though Wisconsin’s O-Line enjoyed what I guesstimated to be 30-40 lbs in advantage across the board. For Badgers fans who think they are screwed out of the last two seconds, Ryan Leaf and the 1997 Washington State Cougars team can relate to you.
Stanford had a chance to score the Pac-12 a second BCS win which would go a long-ways to cover up the conference struggles earlier in the bowl season. When a broken check-down drove the Cardinals to the Pokes’ 25, it looked as if Stanford would do that. However, Coach Shaw decided to take the foot off the pedal and ran two extremely conservative plays to set up a 35 yard field goal. Ask Kellen Moore and Chris Peterson how much of a gimmie 35 yard field goals are. It’s easy to second guess now, but when you claim to have the best college football player in the world, wouldn’t it be a perfect time to run a bootleg or play-action with 3 tight-ends lined-up? I understand Coby Fleener was injured, but Stanford’s tight end core goes 4 deep and they shouldn’t have had a problem to move the ball close to make it more of a “chip-shot” everyone desires to try to win a game. Williamson was already struggling in the game, missing a 41 yard field goal and kicking a ball out of bounds. Once Jordan hooked the ball left, it seemed all but inevitable Stanford was going to let this one slip away.
Realistically, everyone expects a drop-0ff with Luck leaving next year. He is a once in a lifetime talent and it’s important for non-traditional programs like Stanford and Cal capitalize when they land QBs as talented as Andrew was for Stanford and someone named Aaron Rodgers at Cal. The Cardinals were obviously able to do a lot more with Luck (beat USC and Notre Dame 3 times, and win the 2011 Orange Bowl) than the Bears were able to do with Rodgers, but hopefully for Bears fans, this guy will be the answer moving forward.