Because the Pac-12 sent only team to a BCS game, the conference's bowl lineup is stacked in its favor. Basically, every bowl-eligible team moved up in the selection order or - in the cases of Arizona and Oregon State - found a vacancy outside of the Pac-12's affiliations.
The result is the potential for the league to go 9-0 in this postseason. The value of such a record can be debated, but I'm saying it would be an achievement. On to Saturday's picks:
Washington State vs. Colorado State, New Mexico Bowl, noon MST, ESPN
The Cougars are in a bowl game for the first time since 2003, and they should have plenty of motivation. WSU filled the Pac-12's last bowl slot, facing a Mountain West team that also views playing in Albuquerque as a sign of the program's revival.
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday should have a big day, while CSU's offense will present some challenges for WSU. The Rams, led by former Snow College running back Kapri Bibbs, produced some big numbers in the second half of the season. But they also were shut out by Utah State.
So the Cougars should control this game, and continue Mike Leach's development of the program to conclude his second season in Pullman. Washington State 38, Colorado State 24.
USC vs. Fresno State, Las Vegas Bowl, 1:30 p.m. MST, ABC
This could be a terrific game, if team is sufficiently motivated. But who knows? The Trojans are playing for their second interim coach this season, as offensive coordinator Clay Helton takes over for Ed Orgeron, who filled in after Lane Kiffin was fired. And former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian is waiting to assume full command after Saturday.
Fresno State, the Mountain West champion, is lamenting its missed opportunity for a BCS game. But the Bulldogs should have plenty of incentive, considering how they're viewed in the power structure of college football in California. They also have a dynamic offense, led by quarterback Derek Carr. USC held Mountain West runner-up Utah State to 14 points in September, when Chuckie Keeton was quarterbacking the Aggies.
So if the Trojans genuinely show up in Las Vegas, they'll win this game. Memories of the debacle in the Sun Bowl vs. Georgia Tech last December should stir enough emotion. USC 31, Fresno State 24.&n
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