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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Preseason view of Pac-10 not true

    First impressions don’t mean a thing; just look at the Pacific 10 Conference.

    Before the beginning of this year’s college football season, it was all about the Southeastern Conference, but if any other conference was going to give it a run for its money, it was going to be the Pac-10.

    Not so fast.

    USC was supposed to be the best college team to ever take the field, California was supposed to get over the hump that has plagued them for years, and Oregon and UCLA were supposed to be forces.

    Now that the season has concluded, looking back at how the Pac-10 performed compared to the expectations, it is kind of sad.

    Not to mention, Arizona was supposed to make a bowl, again.

    Heck, the Big Ten – the conference that everyone perceived as the worst big conference this year – sent seven teams to bowl game, including two BCS bowls.

    Though the Pac-10 sent six teams to bowl games this year, it doesn’t mean a thing. I challenge anyone to name the six teams that went, and what their bowl is called.

    Can’t do it? Wow, what a surprise.

    Aside from USC, the only team from the Pac-10 to ever play in the BCS National Championship game, the conference has no BCS bowl representatives, nor did the “”powerhouse”” teams of the conference live up to the expectations.

    Following are the bowl games Pac-10 teams made it to (from best to worst) and a breakdown of how the team performed in contrast to their expectations:

    USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3) – Rose Bowl

    Though it is never a failure to make the Rose Bowl, even if you are USC, whenever a team is labeled the best in history prior to a season, two loses (including one to bottom-dweller Stanford) isn’t a good thing.

    “”There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football,”” Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh told the Associated Press prior to the season. “”As sort of a college football historian, there’s no question that this ‘SC team ranks right up there.””

    If there was ever a statement Harbaugh would like to retract, it may be that one.

    The argument could be made that USC is one of the teams that is still qualified enough to be considered as a BCS title team – LSU is the first team in the history of the BCS to go to the title game with two losses – that is just simply is not the case.

    Though the Rose Bowl is an achievement in itself, anything short of the title game was going to be a disappointment for USC this year.

    ASU (10-2) vs. Texas – Holiday Bowl

    Who would have thought that ASU would be drawing national attention midway through the season?

    I will be the first to admit that ASU got shafted out of a BCS bowl berth and have been one of the Pac-10’s biggest surprises, but the Holiday Bowl just doesn’t draw any attention for the conference.

    The fact of the matter is the Holiday Bowl is an all right bowl to play in, but what the Sun Devils expected was a bowl appearance in 2008.

    If ASU still wants to bring some notoriety to the Pac-10, beating Texas is a must.

    The Longhorns were a potential BCS team before losing to Texas A&M in the season finale, and though the Sun Devils are probably bummed they aren’t heading to the BCS, knocking off Texas would be a sweet way to end their season for them and the Pac-10.

    California (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3) – Armed Forces Bowl

    When I watched California beat Tennessee at the beginning of the year, I was extremely impressed.

    They seemed faster, more athletic, and just overall better than an SEC team. Yeah, I said it – better than an SEC team.

    To be perfectly honest, it wouldn’t have been ridiculous to me if someone were to say that the Golden Bears would make it to the title game. If that same person would have told me Cal was going to lose six games this year, I would have lost total respect for him.

    The Golden Bears spent time as the No. 2 team in the polls this year, and then something happened. What? I’m not sure.

    It may be unexplainable, but this very talented and explosive Cal team has lost six of its last seven games, and is now considered one of the weaker teams in the Pac-10.

    College football has been crazy this season, but Cal’s season is more out of whack than any team this year.

    Cal was supposed to be one of the best teams in the country, but it has been off the national map for over a month now.

    Oregon (8-4) vs. South Florida (9-3) – Sun Bowl

    Three weeks ago Oregon was a shoo-in for the title game.

    Now, I can’t even remember what bowl it is in. Oh yeah, the Sun Bowl.

    It is a shame for the Ducks season went down the drain with quarterback Dennis Dixon after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, because if any Pac-10 team not named USC had a shot at the title game, it was this year’s Ducks.

    Sitting at 8-1 with a Heisman candidate playing the best football of his career, the Ducks were sitting at No. 2 poised as can be. They only had games at Arizona, at UCLA, and home against Oregon State.

    Seems easy enough. The result?

    The Ducks lost Dixon for the season at Arizona and lost all three of their remaining games.

    The Pac-10 had so many chances to turn heads this season, and it all crashed and burned when Dixon got injured, leading to the Ducks’ demise.

    UCLA (6-6) vs. BYU (10-2) – Las Vegas Bowl

    Just one week after BYU beat Arizona in the season opener, UCLA beat the Cougars 27-17 on Sept. 8 at the Rose Bowl.

    The Bruins seemed to be a solid football program ready for a season with two or three loses.

    Where are they now?

    Head coach Karl Dorrell was fired Monday after the team went 6-6, with a loss to lowly Notre Dame and a 44-6 blowout to Utah.

    Sure, injuries to two quarterbacks and tailback were detrimental, but after the season, UCLA is just another bad team from the Pac-10.

    Oregon State (8-4) vs. Maryland – Emerald Bowl

    Now Oregon State didn’t have a downer season.

    They won eight games, and three of its four losses came to Cincinnati, ASU and USC.

    Though the Beavers were never looked at as the class of the Pac-10, they have done a pretty good job this season.

    The Emerald Bowl isn’t a fantastic place to be, but after all, it is a bowl.

    Hats off to the Beavers for at least not making the Pac-10 look like garbage like some of the teams above did.

    Overall Pac-10 bowl status

    The Pac-10 has had its glory years, but clearly this season wasn’t one of them.

    With six teams being invited to bowl games, the ones they were invited to fall significantly short to what was expected from this conference in the beginning of the year.

    So from the country’s point of view, the Pac-10 is nothing but a conference that has one powerhouse team, one team that was carried by its quarterback, one team that was supposed to be top five but lost six games, a journeymen team that happened to win 10 games, followed by a bunch of underachieving squads.

    So here’s to you, Pac-10. There’s always next year.

    Ari Wasserman is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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