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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-12’s first title game lacks appeal

When Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott added Utah and Colorado to the conference during last year’s offseason, he was also able to establish a championship game that would match up the two best teams to battle it out for the coveted Rose Bowl bid.

As preparations are underway for the inaugural championship game tomorrow night, the notion of the two best teams facing off must be some kind of sick joke.

The Oregon Ducks, deserving of the possible Rose Bowl appearance, will face off at home against the UCLA Bruins.

Yes, the same Bruins that were dismantled by a one-win Arizona Wildcats team in the middle of October.

And yes, the same UCLA squad that scored zero points while allowing 50 against USC in its season-ending rivalry game on Saturday.

In whatever cruel way you look at it, the Bruins, with a 6-6 record, probably wouldn’t have had a shot at a bowl otherwise. Now, the team has the opportunity to steal a win and play in one of the most prestigious collegiate postseason football games.

Even UCLA knows that it got a lucky shot, because in what other circumstances would it fire its head coach, Rick Neuheisel, the week before its team plays for the Pac-12 title?

In comparison, the Big Ten Conference championship game, whose winner automatically gets the other Rose Bowl bid, is a complete opposite of the Pac-12.

The battle between No. 13 Michigan State and No. 15 Wisconsin will be a physical one.

With the way these teams have been playing this year, the inaugural Big Ten championship game could be an instant classic at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.

The Bruins, on the other hand, will be lucky to get a field goal on the board.

Seriously though, if the Ducks don’t score at least 50 points, a lot of people will be surprised, and that’s the depressing part.
Could you imagine what a rematch between USC and Oregon would’ve been like to finish off the Pac-12 slate?

It could’ve been unbelievable, but because of the Trojans’ past indiscretions and NCAA sanctions, we have been stripped of a competitive championship game.

But you have to blame the rest of the Pac-12 South, too. It has turned into a division of collapsed teams.

ASU had a shot at glory, but after losing four straight games to close out the season, the Sun Devils will limp to a bowl game while Dennis Erickson looks for a new gig.

The Wildcats, who managed to find some success at the end of a disappointing season, were never going to be serious contenders after firing Mike Stoops at the season’s midpoint.

Utah, after getting four straight wins, only needed to beat Colorado this past weekend to get to the championship game, but couldn’t get it done in the end.

But the worst offender has to be UCLA.

The Bruins have muddled through a season of mediocrity and have found themselves placed in the championship game by default.

It’s almost guaranteed that after this year, when USC is allowed to play for contention, that a situation like this won’t happen again.

If the allure of postseason glory tempts Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley back to USC next year and the Ducks continue on the Chip Kelly train of success, these teams will be a preseason lock for next year’s championship contest.

If by some divine intervention the Bruins are able to beat the Ducks tomorrow, it could be the first sign of the apocalypse.

— Dan Kohler is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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