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Re-capping Pac-12 bowl season

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In a word: Yikes

SDCCU Holiday Bowl - Michigan State v Washington State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

A couple things, before we launch into some mini-recaps of what could be mildly described as a subpar bowl season for the conference. First - I don’t care whether the other Pac-12 bowl teams win or not, so long as WSU wins. (Welp!) Second - I don’t think, in general, that bowl results reflect the quality of a particularl team when compared to their season as a whole. Third - On a related note, I don’t think a conference’s bowl results necessarily reflect the quality of that conference.

All that said, sweet Jesus did the Pac-12 ever embarrass itself over the course of the last couple weeks. In the eight (!!!) losses over nine games by conference teams, the average score was 38-25. Five of the eight losses were by double digits, and if Penn State hadn’t gifted Washington a bunch of chances, it would have been six. Who suffered the biggest defeat? You guessed it. Come on down, Mike Leach and your fresh new raise!

Now again, I only care about one of the 12 teams in the conference. If all 12 teams made bowls, I wouldn’t mind if they went 1-11. But if you’re Larry Scott, this is pretty damn humiliating. All of that “Conference of Champions” nonsense - it was pretty comical when a Pac-12 ad ran as USC was getting poleaxed Friday night - doesn’t get you very far when your football teams lay egg after egg on the national stage.

Of course, if you’re Larry Scott, and you place as much emphasis on doing well in tennis and volleyball as you do on football, you’re probably sleeping easy. He’ll probably sleep just as easily next season when there isn’t a Pac-12 team in the CFP and he’s on a flight to China to promote God-knows-what. Hopefully the satellite feed on Larry’s plane isn’t DirecTV. Wouldn’t want him to miss a game.

Thankfully the bowl checks cash the same, win or lose.

Boise State defeats Oregon, 38-28: This game could have, and probably should have, been a lot worse. At one point, Oregon had 100 more defensive return yards than offensive yards. If it’s the third quarter, that isn’t good. Not exactly a roaring start to the Cristobal era.

Utah defeats West Virginia, 30-14: Congratulations (?) to the Utes, whose fans have never bragged more following a 9th place finish. Of course, it took West Virginia missing its starting quarterback and running back, and turning to a guy with a last name (Chugunov) that sounds like a bottle of vodka I’d find next to the $12/gallon Military Special stuff I see on the bottom shelf of the base liquor store.

Kansas State defeats UCLA, 35-17: You won’t believe this, but there was a point in this game where UCLA led 17-7. It was then that wizard Bill Snyder summoned the powers of his Cactus Bowl windbreaker, and the Wildcats reeled off 28 in a row. With that, Josh Rosen finishes 0-1 all-time versus WSU, and Chip Kelly assumes control of UCLA’s program with everything in place to become a major force in the conference.

Purdue defeats Arizona, 38-35: Hey, we found a team that kept it within one score! RichRod for Pac-12 commissioner! But seriously, he couldn’t be much worse. Anyway, Arizona probably should have won, but they couldn’t hold off a team that lost to Nebraska...at home. I’ll admit that I didn’t see one second of this game but I wish I would have because most of these bowl games have been snoozers.

TCU defeats Stanford, 39-37: You know who was truly pissed about this result? That would be the Gamble-Tron, who had TCU -2.5. How many times does a team who is favored by 2.5 win but not cover??!! Ugh. There was a point in this game where I thought Stanford may win by 40. Then Gary Patterson summoned his inner 2015 Alamo Bowl, and TCU stormed back to beat the North champs.

Michigan State defeats WSU, 42-17: Lots has been written on this website about the face plant that any objective WSU fan knew was coming. Here’s what alarms me the most: In the eight quarters following the 20-point first half in the Sun Bowl, the WSU offense managed one touchdown and 15 total points. That’s some seriously embarrassing production for a guy who is purported to be an offensive whiz. But at least he owned it. Oh wait, he blamed Paul Wulff.

NC State defeats ASU, 52-31: BUT AT LEAST DEFENSIVE WUNDERKIND ALEX GRINCH DIDN’T GIVE UP OVER HALF A HUNDRED SUCK IT TODD GRAHAM. But unlike Todd Graham, Grinch is getting a raise. This game was kinda fun in spurts, but unfortunately, ASU couldn’t recover three consecutive onside kicks. But at least N’Keal Harry gave us this treat:

Ohio State defeats USC, 24-7: I had to prop my eyelids open Clockwork Orange-style to make it through 2.5 quarters of this one. USC had chance after chance to make it a game after Sam Darnold threw a pretty awful Pick-Six. Did they capitalize? Well, you can clearly see the final score and infer for yourself. Sam Darnold needs another year in college, but seeing as how WSU plays USC next year, I hope he leaves. Also, he won’t improve much, if at all, with Clay Helton as his coach.

Penn State defeats Washington, 35-28: This game was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate. Penn State had 11 more first downs, held the ball for nearly 36 minutes, converted 13-17 3rd downs, and outgained UW 545-331. Yet somehow UW had the ball with a chance to tie at the end. Well, I should say they “technically” had a chance to tie. Jake Browning was playing quarterback, so they realistically stood no shot.

And thus ended Pac-12 bowl season in general, and WSU’s 2017 season in particular. The seniors depart having accomplished much in their four-to-five years. They resurrected a largely moribund program, and gave us fans some incredible highs along the way. Among the highs was 26 wins and three straight bowls, the second-most successful run in program history.

In games against Oregon, Stanford and the LA schools, WSU’s seniors went 8-4. In games against FCS opponents, bowl opponents and Washington, WSU’s seniors went 3-8. The Mike Leach rollercoaster careens forward! Hang on everybody, it’s gonna be a wild ride!

Go Cougs. On to 2018. Happy New Year.

Football

Busy offseason awaits Washington State and it could be a good thing following 25-point Holiday Bowl loss | The Spokesman-Review
For the 20 Washington State seniors who sulked off the field at SDCCU Stadium, a 42-17 loss to Michigan State in hand, the tail end of a once-promising 2017 football season may still be marinating a few months from now.

Basketball

Pac-12 basketball projections for 2018: order-of-finish and all-conference teams
The nosedive has been severe since the upset of Saint Mary’s, which makes me wonder if the Cougars will be more like their old selves than new.

WSU and USC to Battle for New Year's Eve Pac-12 Win - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
The Washington State men's basketball team (8-5, 0-1) remains in Los Angeles to take on USC (9-5, 0-1), as both teams look for their first Pac-12 wins of the season, Sunday, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Galen Center.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Went to an out-of-the way place in downtown Tampa called Hidden Springs Ale Works. They had a beer on tap called Santa’s Last Stand. It’s an imperial gingerbread and vanilla porter. Though the gingerbread flavor was a bit strong, it was quite good. Also, the label was pretty cool.

Craft Brewers Predict the Biggest Beer Trends for 2018 | VinePair
Craft brewers (including Evil Twin, Oskar Blues, among many others) weigh in on ratings sites, cult ingredients, and other beer trend predictions for 2018.

Non-Sports

Millennials Are Screwed - The Huffington Post
Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression.