Blog Entry

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

Posted on: January 12, 2011 3:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Pac-10 goes 2-2 in its four -- yes, just four -- bowl games. Wrapping up:

1. Oregon still has to prove it can outfox teams outside the conference. For all of Chip Kelly's undeniable brilliance at the Oregon helm, the last three times the Ducks have stepped out of conference to face quality defensive opposition -- and frankly, we're being generous by even including Auburn in that discussion -- they've scored 8, 17, and 19 points (against Boise State, Ohio State, and the Tigers, respectively). Those totals are a far, far cry from the Ginsu job the Ducks have performed on the Pac-10 the past two seasons, and they beg the question: what kind of kryptonite do defensive coordinators outside the league have that those inside it don't?

To be fair, it may be a simple matter of preparation; all three of the above teams had far longer than the typical work week to watch film and prep for the Duck tempo. And the torrent of TV-dictated stoppages in bowl games didn't do anything to help Oregon's attempts to wear down the Buckeyes or Tigers from a stamina standpoint. But the root of Oregon's problems in these games doesn't have anything to do with either of those issues; it's that they've simply been destroyed at the line of scrimmage. Whether it's Boise's Ryan Winterswyk, OSU's Cameron Heyward, or now Nick Fairley, the Ducks have had no answer for the elite linemen on the other side of the ball.

No one will argue that the Duck offensive linemen aren't well-coached, athletic, quality players. They've been good enough to win two Pac-10 titles and 22 games in two years. But to take the next step and win Oregon's first national title, Kelly may have to find a way to upgrade his offensive front all the same.

2. If they can keep the staff intact, Stanford's not going anywhere. Or at least, not far. No one will argue that Jim Harbaugh wasn't the driving force behind the Cardinal's unfathomable rise to 12-1 and beyond-impressive 40-12 demolition of Virginia Tech (remember that despite their short-week loss to James Madison, the Hokies had ripped through an improved ACC without even being seriously challenged), but that doesn't mean he was the only force. Andrew Luck will return in 2011 as the hands-down, no-debate best quarterback in the nation. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has already drawn head coaching interest and has learned directly under Harbaugh the past three seasons. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio just finished overseeing the biggest single-season defensive improvement in the conference, if not the countr. And Harbaugh's recruiting prowess means the cupboard should remain well-stocked for the next few years.

2010 may be the high-water mark for the program all the same. But if both Roman and Fangio are retained -- and it seems likely they will be, if one or the other is named head coach -- don't expect much of a drop-off in the near future, even with Harbaugh in San Francisco. The team on display at the Orange Bowl was clearly constructed well enough to withstand the loss of a single pillar, even if it happened to be the biggest one.

3. Arizona doesn't really "do" that whole bowl game scene, man. The Wildcats' appeared to have taken an important step forward during the 2009 regular season, coming within one overtime loss against the Ducks of a Rose Bowl berth. But then they took a big one back with a 33-0 shellacking at the hands of Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. This year, Mike Stoops needed a solid performance in the Alamo Bowl to wash out the taste of the 'Cats' season-ending four-game losing streak, and instead his team laid another colossal egg, meekly succumbing to Oklahoma State 36-10.

With victories or even respectable performances in those two bowls, Stoops would still have his team firmly established as one of the "up-and-comers" in the Pac-10. As is, 2011 isn't a make-or-break year for Stoops just yet ... but another iffy regular season followed by a third bowl faceplent would mean 2012 certainly would be.

4. Washington had a winning season. OK, that's not really something we "learned" as much as something that simply happened, but it's as close as we'll get since we're not sure there really was anything to learn from the Huskies' 19-7 win over Nebraska in this year's edition of the Holiday Bowl. Certainly it was a thrill for Jake Locker and the other Husky seniors to go out with a win, and after a disappointing year for coordinator Nick Holt's defense, holding the Huskers to a measly 7 points -- after giving up 56 to them in Seattle during the regular season -- will provide some optimism for next year. But with the Huskers visibly unfocused and unmotivated for a bowl game they'd played the year before against a team they'd already flattened during the regular season (and Taylor Martinez still not 100 percent), it's questionable how much an accomplishment the win really is. And with the face-of-the-program Locker departed, it's equally questionable how similar next year's Huskies will look to this year's.

So: it's a nice story for Washington. But it doesn't tells us much, if anything, about the Huskies going forward.


Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:17 am

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:00 am

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:12 am

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

As a Pac 10 fan, I did not expect more than one win in the Bowl Season.  I thought Stanford could score enough to edge out Virginia Tech.  I was pleasantly surprised to see two wins and a very exciting National Championship game out of the Pac 10.  The one think I learned, that Hinnen aparently did not learn is that there is no quit in Pac 10 teams.  Oregon fought down to the end.  Washington culd have maild in that bowl game after being humitiated by Nebraksa earlier in Seattle.  Neither did. 

Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: January 12, 2011 10:23 pm

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

What I learned about Jerry Hinnen (author/blogger/whatever)...He didn't want to like the Pac-10 before the bowl season, and is using a 2-2 record as an excuse to call them average...and still not like them.  Newsflash...the SEC was average, the Big-10 worse than average, and the Big-12 not so good as well...IF, IF, we use these silly bowl records as a factor.  Here's what you can really say...Arizona blew it big time again...Both Michigan schools didn't show up...but the rest of college football is fairly equal.  Auburn was barely better then my Ducks...TCU was slightly better than Wisconsin, Ohio St. was slightly better than Arky, Stanford was quite a bit better than Virginia Tech...Boise St. wasn't given a chance to show what they are...

And quit with the "ONLY FOUR TEAMS FROM THE PAC MADE BOWL GAMES" line...We all know USC would've...and the rest of the Pac actually went out and played brutal out-of-conference schedules...not to mention 9 in conference games.  Keep your East coast blinders on.  

Since: Oct 7, 2010
Posted on: January 12, 2011 10:14 pm

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

Yup. Best RB in the pack 10.  Chris Polk.  LeMichael James productivity is a direct result of the spread offense.  He is real fast but his game will not translate into the NFL as well as a physical runner like Polk, who also has great speed to compliment his power.  I think McCluster when I think about James in the NFL.  Polk will be the focus of Washington's offense next year with Locker gone, and a lot more people across the country will know who he is.

Since: Jan 12, 2011
Posted on: January 12, 2011 8:05 pm

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

Best RB in Pac 10?  Child please.  Huskies are 3 to 4 years away, but i will admit the Pac 10 is more fun when the Dawgs are competitive.

Since: Oct 7, 2010
Posted on: January 12, 2011 5:15 pm

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

The only explanation I can think for Hinnen turning an eye to the Huskies success, albiet mild, is that he must be a Coug!!!  Even though Locker is gone UW is definitely on the rise.  Decent recruiting class, best RB in the Pac 10, and a rabid fan base.  And can you blame them, from winless season 2 years a go, to a bowl win over Nebraska.  Look at Stanford.  Struggling in the Pac 10, looking for hope.  Here comes a new, young, energetic head coach.  Get a big win over USC.  Then get some good recruits and start top put some big wins together.  Kind of sounds familiar to me.  I really think the Huskies are on the move and could make some real noise in the Pac 10 the next couple of years.

Since: Jan 12, 2011
Posted on: January 12, 2011 4:22 pm

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

Did this guy even watch the Holiday Bowl? Or just watch the highlights on TV?  To assume that the game played out the way it did simply because the Huskers weren’t motivated, is dismissing the growth of the Huskies between the two Nebraska games, and provides a convenient excuse for a Husker team that was simply over matched in all three phases of the game.  You are implying that the Huskers simply rolled over because they were in the same bowl as last year.  Can this assertion be credited to any post game interviews, or Bo Pelini insight?  No, simply put, you thought that the Huskers would run away with the game, and when they didn’t, you assumed they simply did not care. I don’t know of any 18-22 year old football player who wants to be embarrassed on National Television, and have no doubt that the Huskers took the field hoping to win. 

Secondly, how can the improved run game the Huskies exhibited not even garner mention?  Chris Polk, did whatever he wanted on the field during the Holiday Bowl, and that starts with play calling, blocking up front, and a workmanlike focus on moving the chains.  With the running game being a major factor in football, at all levels, how can the improvement of that facet of the Husky offense not be something “You Learned?”

Clearly, I read the article through Purple Colored glasses, but I think almost anyone who read the article could see that you put in very little effort to address any positives of the Husky bowl victory, and were merely trying to meet the minimum “word count” requirement.


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