Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pac-10 bowls

The Pac-10 only has 4 bowl-eligible teams. Only the Sun Belt has fewer bowl-eligible teams.

In spite of this the Pac-10 is one of the strongest conferences this season.

With 70 available bowl spots, you would imagine the top 70 teams would be playing. So, lets take a look at the top-70 teams that did not make the cut:

Top ranked nonbowl teams
22. USC (8-5)
24. ASU (6-6)
31. Oregon State (5-7)
34. California (5-7)
53. Texas (5-7)
58. Colorado (5-7)
59. UCLA (4-8)
62. Iowa State (5-7)

Hmm... The top 4 are all from the Pac-10. This list takes in every Pac-10 team save Washington State (and they are not that far down at #82). So why are the Pac-10 teams ranked so highly, but not in bowls?
USC was declared ineligible for something somebody may have done a long time ago. (They should have hired Auburn's Cam Newton case lawyers.)
ASU had 6 wins, but played two 1AA schools due to San Jose State dropping out at the last minute. It didn't matter that one of these schools was ranked higher than SJSU (and the other was not far behind). A rule is a rule. SJSU also dropped Stanford for the season. Luckily, Stanford did not have a 1AA scheduled and was able to fill the spot with Scramento State. (And it wouldn't have mattered anyway.) Who did SJSU play instead? Wisconsin and Alabama. If you have the money, you can buy your way to a "quality" victory.

Oregon State and California both had some tough non-conference road games (TCU and Boise for the Beavers and Nevada for California) Replace one of these top 15 teams with a more manageable team (say a middle of the pack SEC team?) and both would be bowling.

Another source of blame could be the 9-game conference schedule. Had Oregon State and Cal only had an 8 game schedule, they could have schedule an "easy win" non-conference game and voila, they would both be bowl eligible.

UCLA is a more difficult case. They managed just 4 victories for the season. However, it would not be a stretch to see them bowl eligible in another conference. They had a particularly brutal non-conference tour of Big-12 country with wins against Houston and Texas and a loss to Kansas State. Replace the K-State game with a 1AA school and drop a conference game and they, too, could be bowling. Alas, they are not in the SEC. At least they can take solace in knocking three teams (Houston, Texas and Oregon State) from bowl contention.

So there you have it, the Pac-10 just needs to emulate the SEC's scheduling practices (and hire their lawyers) and they could have 9 teams bowling.

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