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Pac-12 Bowl Slate Preview and Predictions

Bowl Season is upon us. Let’s check out the rest of the Pac-12, and guess how they’ll fare in the postseason...

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NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another year has come and passed, and still no bowling Beavers. It’s quite a shame that wears on all of our hearts. But that doesn’t mean bowl season isn’t stopping for the rest of the Pac-12, so neither are we. Join us as 9 other BD writers and myself dive in and break down each Pac-12 bowl game, as well as see our predictions...

Las Vegas Bowl: Oregon vs #25 Boise State

December 16, 12:30 PM, ABC

We get to start off this list with the yucks. Hooray. Ducks lose, easy pick, next. Just kidding! (Kinda. Hopefully not about the Ducks losing...)

On a serious note, this is an exciting matchup. The Ducks offense has been totally changed since quarterback Justin Herbert returned against the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks offense looks dynamic again, however, rumors have been floating around that seniors Royce Freeman and Tyrell Crosby may skip the bowl game to focus on the NFL Draft process. Those rumors seem to be on the false side of things, but it is a topic to keep an eye on.

On the other sideline will be the Mountain West Conference champions, the Boise State Broncos. Boise St checks in at #25 in the land after knocking off former Beaver, Marcus McMaryion, and the Fresno State Bulldogs in the MWC Championship game. A large portion of the Broncos success is due to their defense, which ranks in the top half of the MWC in every major statistic. The offense, led by quarterback Brett Rypien, ranks third in the MWC in passing offense, so a major key in this game will be watching the Oregon defense against the Broncos passing attack.

Also, we can’t talk about this game, and not bring up this video...

Staff Prediction:

7 Votes - Oregon Ducks

3 Votes - Boise State Broncos

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia

December 26, 10:30 AM, ESPN

As for our next Pac-12 squad, we will be talking about the Utah Utes. (And seriously, can someone tell me what the hell a Ute is???)

The Utes finished at 6-6 overall, far below what was expected of this talented squad heading into the season. Utah’s offense averaged 29.5 points per game this season behind talented sophomore Tyler Huntley. This was good enough for 58th in the nation, with a passing attack that ranked 43rd. The run production dipped off from usual Utah standards as well as the defense playing at a sub-par rating. Which is beyond unusual for a Kyle Whittingham led squad. The Utes will look to pass early and often against a West Virginia squad that ranks 110th in the nation total defense.,

The West Virgina Mountaineers will look to find success against the Utes through any and every avenue they can find, as the Mountaineers offense ranks 16th in total offense. However, starting stud quarterback Will Grier suffered a broken finger on his throwing hand on November 18th against the Texas Longhorns, so Grier will most likely be out for this matchup. This will lead WVU to lean on 1,000 yard rusher, Justin Crawford, to lead the way.

Expect a ton of offense in this game. The Big-12 Conference is not known for it’s defense...

Staff Predictions:

3 Votes - Utah Utes

7 Votes - West Virginia Mountaineers

Cactus Bowl: UCLA vs Kansas State

December 26, 6:00 PM, ESPN

Next on our preview list comes the Chosen Rosen and the UCLA Bruins who will go against the Kansas State Wildcats.

UCLA has been a puzzling team to watch this season. At times, they’ve looked unstoppable, just ask Texas A&M after blowing a 34-point lead against the Bruins. Other times, they’ve looked inept against some of the premier teams of the conference such as Stanford or USC. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what squad shows up against K-State. If Josh Rosen can ball out as he’s done most of this season, UCLA may run away with this early.

Kansas State is an interesting opponent, as they are not great in any single facet of football. Their offense ranks 96th in the country, while their defense comes in at 97th after allowing an average of 26 points per game. Yet, these Wildcats can’t be overlooked, as they have impressive wins over far superior teams such as Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Watch for K-State to lead the way with a strong rushing attack led by dual-threat QB Skylar Thompson. K-State features an offensive style similar to Arizona, which roasted the UCLA rush defense that ranks 129th nationally, 47-30. This may be the ultimate story-line to watch for in this game.

Staff Predictions:

UCLA Bruins - 5 Votes

Kansas State Wildcats - 5 Votes

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs Purdue

December 27, 5:00 PM, FOX

Now comes the time to talk about the Wildcats and the Boilermakers.

Everybody and their grandma has heard of Khalil Tate. So, per usual, he’ll be the story to watch here again. Purdue boasts the 28th ranked defense in CFB, so it will be exciting to watch Arizona’s 9th ranked offense take on the Boilermaker’s defense. Another player you have to watch for is co-offensive Pac-12 freshman of the year RB JJ Taylor, as he had the 2nd highest rushing yardage behind only Kahlil Tate with 828 yards on the year. The Wildcats utilize a RB committee, but Taylor has separated himself from the pack and has become a dependable asset for UofA.

The Boilermakers currently have history going against them, as Purdue has not beaten a major conference opponent in a bowl game since the 2002 Sun Bowl vs the Washington Huskies. Having an average offense doesn’t help Purdue’s odds, neither. Purdue lacks any dynamic talent on their offense, which is evidenced by their ability to only score 40 points once over this past season. Purdue has rode their defense to this point, and will look to continue to do so against Arizona in this match-up.

Expect to see strength-on-strength in this game. Zona’s rushing attack for Purdue’s rush defense. An unstoppable force vs an immovable object, literally.

Staff Predictions:

Arizona Wildcats - 10 Votes

Purdue Boilermakers - 0 Votes

Alamo Bowl: #13 Stanford vs #15 TCU

December 28, 6:00 PM, ESPN

Talk about a great match-up.

The Cardinal come into this game fresh off a loss against USC in the Pac-12 Championship game with a record of 9-4. They visited the championship game for a 4th time in 7 years, and nearly walked away with their 4th championship against USC. The story for Stanford will be the same as it’s been all season long, watch Bryce Love. The Heisman finalist has had a phenomenal season, and will most likely top 2,000 yards rushing against TCU in this game. You also have to watch for KJ Costello, sophomore QB who took over about halfway through the season for the Cardinal. Since taking the job, Costello has brought consistency to the Cardinal offense, and added a much needed passing threat to counter Love. And as always, any David Shaw defense needs to be respected greatly.

Going against the Cardinal will be the TCU Horned Frogs. Last time TCU was in the Alamo, they stormed back from a 31-0 deficit to beat the Ducks in triple overtime (You had to know we weren’t letting that slide). TCU is led by stud transfer QB Kenny Hill, who took TCU to the Big-12 Championship game after a 10-3 season. While TCU’s offense can be dangerous if kept unchecked, their strength this season has been their rush defense. TCU has allowed only 3.2 yards/rush this season, good for 8th in the nation. Watching this defense go against Bryce Love will be an exciting story to focus on during this ballgame.

NCAA Football: Washington at Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Staff Predictions:

Stanford Cardinal - 6 Votes

TCU Horned Frogs - 4 Votes

Holiday Bowl: #18 Washington State vs #16 Michigan State

December 28, 6:00 PM, FS1

Washington State comes into this game with it’s prolific air-raid offense led by Luke Falk. This will be their 4th bowl game in 5 years under everyone’s favorite candy corn connoisseur, Mike Leach. Yet, you don’t need me to tell you that Wazzu loves to sling the rock. What will interest you is how well Washington State’s defense has been this year. Led by stud DE Hercules Mata’afa, the Cougs are allowing 314 total yards per game, good for 15th in the nation. Also they have allowed only 8 passing touchdowns this season, ranking 2nd in all of CFB. The Cougs are a very well-rounded team heading into this game.

Michigan State whipped up a remarkable turnaround after going 3-9 last season, as the Spartans finished 3rd in the Big Ten with a record of 9-3. The Spartans offense was headed by QB Brian Lewerke and WR Felton Davis III, who will look to find success against Wazzu’s stout defense. Michigan State featured solid wins this past season against teams such as Iowa, Michigan, and Penn State.

Watch for a slug-fest in this game. It has the makings of a very fun and physical game.

Staff Predictions:

Washington State Cougars - 5 Votes

Michigan State Spartans - 5 Votes

Sun Bowl: Arizona State vs #24 NC State

December 29, 11:00 AM, CBS

The Sun Devils head into this bowl game off a territorial cup win against UofA and heads to the Sun Bowl to take on a competitive NC State squad. ASU finished at a record of 7-5 thanks in large part to Manny Wilkins and his 2,918 passing yards. In addition, senior RB Demario Richard led the Sun Devils in rushing with 977 rushing yards and 12 TDs. ASU boasts an exciting offense, but a somewhat lackluster defense. This team relies on it’s offense to get points early and often to propel them to a W.

Now while ASU thrives on offense. NC State thrives on defense. This team allows just under 25 points per game and 377 yards of total offense. Not to mention, anchoring the defense is future top-10 pick sack-monster Bradley Chubb. In addition to a stout defense, the Wolfpack has an effective passing attack featuring stud QB Ryan Finley, who has thrown for almost 3,200 yards and 16 TDs.

A lot of pundits believe this game will be low-scoring game, but this writer thinks this has the opportunity to be a high scoring shootout.

Staff Predictions:

Arizona State Sun Devils - 1 Vote

North Carolina State - 9 Votes

Cotton Bowl Classic: #8 USC vs #5 Ohio State

December 29, 5:30 PM, ESPN

Sam Darnold, USC. JT Barrett, Ohio State. Oh man.

2 of the most accomplished QBs in football. 2 of the most decorated programs in CFB history. Talk about a tremendous match-up (and a money-making match-up too).

Darnold and Barrett will both face defenses that thrive in different areas. Ohio State boasts a pass defense that allows just over 180 passing yards per game. While USC features a rush defense that allows 159 yards per game. If there’s a story-line to watch, it’s the D-line of Ohio State vs the O-line of USC. The defensive line of Ohio State features future NFL studs all along it’s front line, including Nick Bosa and Sam Hubbard, that has dominated teams all season long. It will be interesting to watch how USC handles Ohio State’s constant pressure.

The real stars of this game may actually emerge on the ground, instead of the air. We are going to see 4 stud RBs in Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr for USC, and JK Dobbins and Mike Weber for Ohio State. These four backs have combined for almost 4,000 yards of rushing, and will have their chance to shine in one of CFB’s biggest games of the year.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Staff Predictions:

USC Trojans - 3 Votes

Ohio State Buckeyes - 7 Votes

Fiesta Bowl: #11 Washington Huskies vs #9 Penn State Nittany Lions

December 30, 1:00 PM, ESPN

The last Pac-12 match-up of our preview, and quite possibly the best one yet.

Here’s the deal with the Huskies; they have the offense, and especially the defense, to get this W. However, it will be interesting to see what happens to the U-Dub offense after former OC, Jonathan Smith, left to join the Beavs (YEAH BABY). Under Smith, the Huskies featured a well-rounded offense that averaged just over 220 yards passing with Jake Browning, and just under 190 yard rushing led by Myles Gaskin. Also, we cannot forget return specialist and star WR Dante Pettis, who is a threat to score anytime he touches the rock. On the other side of the ball, U-Dub boasts arguably the best defense in the Pac-12, which is anchored by DT Vita Vea. This defense comes in at 1st in the nation in rushing defense at 92.3 yards per game, and at 6th in scoring defense with about 14.5 points per game.

The Huskies will have their hands full, as Penn State is just as well-balanced on both sides of the ball. Penn State comes into this game as 7th in scoring offense with 41.8 points per game, as well as 7th ranked scoring defense with roughly 15.5 points per game. This team flat-out gets it done on both sides of the ball. Oh! And you know we can’t talk about Penn State without mentioning Saquon Barkley. The do-it-all back will give this Husky squad a threat they haven’t seen all season. Even without Saquon on the field, Penn State has the offensive weapons to give U-Dub nightmares. Plus, Trace McSorley is pretty good at this quarterback thing. The dude has 3,228 passing yards and 28 TDs, and has some of the most bonkers home-run-pass plays you will see from a QB. The kid is fun to watch and always balls out in big games.

In this writer’s opinion, it comes down to this game and the Alamo Bowl for the most exciting Pac-12 bowl game of the season. This game will be awesome.

Staff Predictions:

Washington Huskies - 3 Votes

Penn State Nittany Lions - 7 Votes

There you have it, a preview of each Pac-12 bowl game this season. It should be awesome to see these all come to fruition.

But what do you think, Beaver Nation? Got any opinions on who you think will win in these games? Sound off below!