Well College Football fans, we are a day away from the Bowl season and every year it is bitter-sweet. The Bowl season always offers great games us fans usually wouldn't see, along with opportunities for smaller schools and seniors to play one more time, but it also means college football season is coming to an end. For the PAC-12, 8 schools are lucky enough to get a chance to play an extra postseason game, including Oregon who is in search of their first national championship. In honor of Bowl Season-eve, lets take a look at the moments and headlines of the 2014 PAC-12 football season, and what we learned.
USC def. Stanford 13-10
Week 2 offered a great PAC-12 matchup when then-ranked #15 USC went to Palo Alto to take on then ranked #11 Stanford. USC came out on top 13-10 thanks to a sack in the final seconds by senior J.R. Tavai.
Arizona def. Cal 49-45
Two weeks later in Tucson, the Golden Bears took a 31-13 lead into the fourth quarter, however Arizona came storming back to get to within 45-43 with time winding down. Cal then missed a 47 yard field goal and Arizona did the improbable, completing the comeback with a hail mary as time expired.
Cal def. Colorado 59-56 (2 OT)
A week after Cal collapsed against Arizona, they went back home and squeaked one out against a very improved Colorado Buffaloes team. Cal overcame a 28-14 halftime deficit and a goal-line stand in double OT to keep the tie at 56. Cal kicked a field goal to win 59-56 and gave them a much needed PAC-12 victory.
Utah def. UCLA 30-28
In the first weekend of October, 5 of the AP top 8 went down, and #8 UCLA was one of the victims. In a game where UCLA could have taken advantage of Oregon losing two days earlier, Utah went into the Rose Bowl and came out victorious, handing UCLA their first of three losses on the year.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Stanford Feeling Loss of Harbaugh
Its been since 2010 that Jim Harbaugh has been on the sidelines coaching the Cardinal, and for the first time since Harbaugh's departure, Stanford was an average team. Head Coach David Shaw used mostly his recruits this year instead of backpacking off of the job that Jim Harbaugh did recruiting. Look for Stanford to go back to being an 8-4 team year in and year out.
Oregon is the real deal
As much as it pains me to say, the Oregon Ducks could be the best team in College Football. Whether or not that is the case is still to be seen, however they definitely have the best team they have ever had. Along with Marcus Mariota, Freshman running back Royce Freeman has given this offense great balance. Mark Helfricht has done a good job in replace of Chip Kelly; Oregon could own the PAC-12 for years to come.
Los Angeles gap closed?
Ever since Rick Neuheisel was hired as UCLA's head coach years ago, "The Monopoly" of USC has been the talk of the town. Well, Neuheisel didn't really come close to closing the gap between USC and UCLA. He was fired and Jim Mora Jr. took the reins as head coach. He is 3-0 against USC, 1-1 in bowl games, and looking to get UCLA their first back-to-back 10-win seasons. UCLA will face Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl on Januray 2, 2015. On the other side, USC hired Steve Sarkisian last offseason after Lane Kiffin was fired and AD Pat Haden decided to not give the job to interim Ed Orgeron. Sarkisian's first year ended at 8-4 with a chance to defeat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl on December 27. I am not yet ready to say that UCLA has taken over the city from USC. But as long as Mora and Sarkisian are in town, this rivalry will be one of the best in College Football.
This year was quite possibly the best season of football the PAC-12 has seen. You needed to bring your A-game week in and week out and that's something that the conference has not seen before. The quality of football from top to bottom is getting better year after year. In the era of the College Football Playoff, we will continue to see great non-conference games like Oregon v. Michigan State, and even Texas v. UCLA. If the PAC-12 can dominate their bowl games, which I think is more than possible, and Oregon can win it all, the rest of the country will finally realize how good the PAC-12 is.