On Sunday, defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) pledged to UCLA. On Tuesday, another player followed suit.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
- Running backs are the storyline in Arizona's bowl game.
- It's been a memorable season thus far for the Sun Devils.
- How are your favorite Bears doing in the NFL?
- Saying goodbye to the Buffs seniors.
- Hroniss Grasu is a finalist forthe Rimington Trophy.
- A first look at Oregon State-Boise State.
- The Cardinal are waiting on Michigan State prep.
- UCLA-Virginia Tech by the numbers.
- Athlon asks whether USC or Washington made the better hire.
- All in all it was a frustrating year for the Utes.
- Justin Wilcox could still end up at Washington.
- Washington State opens as favorites over Colorado State.
- Athlon ranks the bowl games.
Sports Business Daily has done its annual accounting of bowl gifts, and let's just say there's a reason players like bowl games, beyond another chance to play and win.
The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school, so this is all within the NCAA's complex web of rules.
You'll see "gift suite" over and over. Here's what that is, per SBD:
SportsBusiness Journal’s eighth annual analysis of the gift packages provided to bowl game participants by the committees that host the games reveals that half of those organizations will stage a gift suite or shopping spree in the coming weeks. Gift suites are set up as private events prior to the game in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit.
So what do Pac-12 players get this bowl season. Glad you asked.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Oregon State vs. Boise State)
Tues., Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Honolulu
Gift suite; Oakley sunglasses; Tori Richard aloha shirt, Pro Athletics shorts and performance T-shirt; Ogio backpack; beach towel
AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Arizona vs. Boston College)
Tues., Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN); Shreveport, La.
Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; New Era skull cap; football
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Washington State vs. Colorado State)
Sat., Dec. 21, 2 p.m. (ESPN); Albuquerque, N.M.
Gift suite, portable mobile device charger, 8 GB USB; Oakley Breadbox sunglasses; cap, Oakley Fine Knit beanie; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; Gildan stadium blanket
Fight Hunger Bowl (Washington vs. BYU)
Fri., Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN); San Francisco
Soundmatters wireless portable speaker system; Fossil watch; Maxx HD Wayfarer sunglasses; messenger bag; Macy’s gift card
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (USC vs. Fresno State)
Sat., Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); Las Vegas
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; beanie, cap; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; football, Zappos gift card
Hyundai Sun Bowl (UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Tues., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS); El Paso, Texas
Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; Top of the World cap, Majestic fleece pullover; Ogio backpack; coin, Helen of Troy hair dryer
National University Holiday Bowl (Arizona State vs. Texas Tech)
Mon., Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN); San Diego
$305 Best Buy gift card; Reactor Meltdown watch; Maui Jim sunglasses; cap
Valero Alamo Bowl (Oregon vs. Texas)
Mon., Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN); San Antonio
iPad Mini with retina display, Apple gift card; Fossil watch; panoramic photo, Schutt mini helmet
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio (Stanford vs. Michigan State)
Wed., Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty cap; Ogio backpack
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Glad you asked.
1. Florida State
4. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
9. South Carolina
13. Oklahoma State
16. Arizona State
20. Fresno State
23. Texas A&M
And here's mine:
1. Florida State
5. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
8. South Carolina
12. Oklahoma State
14. Arizona State
17. Central Florida
20. Fresno State
25. Northern Illinois
That's good news and bad news.
The good news is the conference has an excellent chance to post an impressive bowl record. The bad news is it has a chance to embarrass itself, too. Anything less than 6-3 would be a major disappointment.
The biggest reason the Pac-12 should thrive this bowl season is also the biggest negative for the conference: just one BCS bowl team, unlike the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12, and unlike the previous three seasons. Yep, the deepest Pac-12 perhaps in history ended up being a negative when it came to handing out bowl invitations.
The most aggrieved party is No. 10 Oregon, the only eligible at-large team to be passed over. The Ducks were hoping to be pitted against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but the bowl went with Oklahoma, honoring a relationship with the Big 12 and perhaps thinking the Sooners will travel better than the Ducks.
Not to incur the wide-eyed wrath of Oregon fans, but the Sooners' case probably was stronger on merit, too. The Ducks lost two of their final four games, and they barely slipped by 6-6 Oregon State in the Civil War to conclude the season. Oklahoma is riding a three-game winning streak that was capped by impressive victory over No. 6 Oklahoma State on Saturday. Paired with the Sooners other quality win -- at Notre Dame -- that's more impressive than the Ducks best wins (UCLA and Washington). And the Sooners losses, to Baylor and Texas, are at least comparable to the Ducks' (Stanford and Arizona). According to ESPN Stats & Information, Oregon's and Oklahoma's schedules were pretty equivalent, the Ducks ranking 50th and the Sooners 55th.
Sure, Oregon would be favored against Oklahoma, but the Sugar Bowl folks took the temperature of the respective fan bases and found more smiles in Norman than Eugene.
Finally, to be honest, the way Oregon looked over the final month of the season suggests they'd be better off allowing the Sooners to deal with Alabama and Nick Saban.
As for the conference champions, kudos to Stanford for negotiating the nation's fourth-most difficult schedule with an 11-2 record. In fact, the Cardinal is ranked No. 1 in ESPN Stats & Information "Championship Drive Rating," which measures a team's overall merit -- the "difficulty of achieving their W-L or better and how well they control games using in-game win probability; both adjusted for quality of opponent."
Of course, Stanford, which opened as a 3-point favorite against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, is where the Pac-12's overall offseason perception will start. It figures to get a tough fight from the defensive-minded Spartans. A Cardinal loss would diminish the Pac-12's national perception as a whole -- as in trickle down from the Big Ten champion being superior to the Pac-12 champ.
Oregon's matchup with Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl is interesting. If both teams show up with their best game, Oregon wins by two or three touchdowns. But the Ducks over the final four weeks of the season would lose to Texas. The Ducks need to be motivated. They need to know, for one, that the Longhorns figure to be fired up, as they are perhaps playing their last game with Mack Brown as their coach.
The biggest mismatch of the conference's bowl season might be Arizona State against Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devils have won seven of eight -- the loss coming Saturday in the Pac-12 title game -- and are among the nation's hottest teams. The Red Raiders? They've lost five in a row, the last four being blowouts.
UCLA is in a similar situation in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech. The Bruins have won four of five, while the Hokies have lost three of five. Virginia Tech's defense will challenge Bruins QB Brett Hundley, but the Hokies are horrid on offense.
USC and Washington will be the conference's biggest question marks due to coaching changes. The Trojans face a very good Fresno State team led by QB Derek Carr in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, while the Huskies face a BYU team that ran all over Texas earlier this season in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Under normal circumstances, both matchups would favor the Pac-12. But these aren't normal circumstances.
Oregon State will face a Boise State squad with the same deal in the Hawaii Bowl. While this is a down year for the Broncos, it's hard to bet against Boise State with Chris Petersen in a bowl game. But he's now in Seattle. The Beavers, by the way, really need to win this game, otherwise it's going to be a sour offseason in Corvallis.
Meanwhile, Arizona makes the longest trip to meet Boston College in Shreveport, Louisiana for the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. This is interesting just because you have the top two running backs in the country in Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Boston College's Andre Williams.
Finally, Washington State will be playing in its first bowl game since 2003 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl against Colorado State. The Cougars have wins over USC, Utah and Arizona. The Rams' best win is over 5-7 Wyoming. Mike Leach and the Cougs should roll.
Again, when you added it all up, 9-0 is not unreasonable and 7-2 is almost pessimistic. But bowl games are funny things, and this has been a funny season.
As we move into a four-team College Football Playoff with a selection committee weighing who's in and who's out, perception might become even more important than it was with the quintessentially subjective BCS.
The Pac-12 seemed like -- at the very least -- the nation's second best conference, no matter the BCS bowl situation. It needs to make good on that during the bowl games.
- Arizona is going down south for its bowl game.
- Up next for Arizona State is a date with Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
- California's defense will get some JUCO help.
- Colorado picks up commitment No. 16.
- Oregon coach Mark Helfrich on a snowball fight that got a little out of hand.
- Oregon State is headed to Hawaii for its bowl game.
- Stanford and Michigan State have a lot of similarities.
- UCLA will approach the Sun Bowl differently than it did the Holiday Bowl last year.
- USC will get a tough Fresno State team in the Las Vegas Bowl.
- Utah got better in 2013, but things might be more difficult next fall.
- Washington and interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo are headed to the Bay Area for the postseason.
- Washington State will end its bowl drought in New Mexico.
The Pac-12 conference has seen a flurry of action recently, with coaching news and rumors keeping recruits on their toes. Following a week where Steve Sarkisian took over at USC and Chris Petersen moved from Boise State to Washington, this past weekend was tame by comparison. But UCLA made some significant noise with a big commitment, while Oregon extended two intriguing offers. CIF championship games provided backdrops for huge performances from Pac-12 recruits, while the conference title tilt was only the appetizer in the battle between Arizona State and Stanford.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr has won the Lott IMPACT Trophy as the collegiate defensive player having the biggest influence on his team.
Barr, the first Bruin to win the 10th annual award, led UCLA with 20 tackles for losses. He also had 10 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumbles recoveries and 62 total tackles.
The award is named for Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott and goes to a player with strong academic work, community involvement and team leadership.
UCLA will receive $25,000 for its general scholarship fund.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was the speaker at Sunday night's banquet at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.
Manti Te'o of Notre Dame won last year.
Here's the slate.
Sat., Dec. 21 Gildan New Mexico Bowl : Albuquerque, N.M. (University Stadium)
WASHINGTON STATE (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, ESPN
Sat., Dec. 21 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Las Vegas, Nev. (Sam Boyd Stadium)
USC (9-4) vs. Fresno State (11-1), 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT, ABC
Tues., Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl: Honolulu, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium)
OREGON STATE (6-6) vs. Boise State (8-4), 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, ESPN
Fri., Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl : San Francisco (AT&T Park)
WASHINGTON (8-4) vs. BYU (8-4), 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT, ESPN
Mon., Dec. 30 Valero Alamo Bowl : San Antonio, Texas (Alamodome)
OREGON (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4), 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT, ESPN
Mon., Dec. 30 National University Holiday Bowl: San Diego, Calif. (Qualcomm Stadium)
ARIZONA STATE (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5), 10:15 p.m. ET/7:15 p.m. PT, ESPN
Tues., Dec. 31 AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Shreveport, La. (Independence Stadium)
ARIZONA (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5), 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT, ESPN
Tues., Dec. 31 Hyundai Sun Bowl: El Paso, Texas (Sun Bowl)
UCLA (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4), 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, CBS
Wed., Jan. 1 Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio: Pasadena, Calif. (Rose Bowl)
STANFORD (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1), 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT, ESPN
Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3)
Dec. 31, 2:30 p.m. ET, El Paso, Texas (CBS)
VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES BREAKDOWN
Virginia Tech played the way most people expected this season: Its defense was outstanding; its offense was not. There is little doubt the Hokies fielded a championship-caliber defense throughout the course of 2013, but offensive shortcomings ended up derailing any hope for a return to the ACC title game.
When he made them, Virginia Tech won more often than not. The Hokies got off to a 6-1 start and climbed to No. 14 in the rankings after Thomas was particularly effective in their first three ACC games -- scoring six total touchdowns while throwing zero interceptions. But Virginia Tech proceeded to drop three of its next four games, including back-to-back downers against Duke and Boston College.
In those two losses, Thomas had eight turnovers. It is unfair to blame Thomas completely for both losses. There is plenty of blame to go around. The defense did not play particularly well against the Eagles, either, as Andre Williams ran for 166 yards and two scores.
Despite another overtime loss to Maryland at home, Virginia Tech held out hope of winning the Coastal going into the final Saturday of the regular season. But Duke would have none of that. So once again, the Hokies will not play for a championship, the first time they have failed to make it back to the ACC title game after missing the previous season.
The defense ended up ranking in the top 10 in the nation in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks. True freshman Kendall Fuller won ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after ranking fifth nationally in interceptions (six) and leading the conference with 16 passes defended.
Fellow defensive back Brandon Facyson is a candidate to join Fuller on the freshman All-America team. Derrick Hopkins, Jack Tyler, James Gayle, Kyle Fuller and Luther Maddy were solid all year.
This puts into perspective how lopsided the performance was between the offense and defense: Of the 11 Virginia Tech players recognized on the All-ACC media teams, only two came from the offense. Both were honorable mention on offensive line. -- Andrea Adelson
UCLA BRUINS BREAKDOWN
With a 2-0 mark against USC and their head coach locked up for six more years, the UCLA Bruins enter the bowl season brimming with confidence.
Stricken early in the season with the death of receiver Nick Pasquale, coach Jim Mora rallied his team to five straight wins to open the year, including an emotional win at Nebraska. UCLA lost back-to-back games at Stanford and Oregon but closed out the year by winning four of its last five.
Defensively, linebacker Anthony Barr continues to be one of the most dominant players in the country. He led the Pac-12 with 20 tackles for a loss and was tied for second with 10 sacks. Complementary players such as Cassius Marsh, Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack give UCLA one of the top front sevens in college football.
As depth issues impacted the running game, the Bruins got more creative in finding ways to score. Jack took over as a dual-threat option and added seven rushing touchdowns to his résumé. Marsh has a touchdown reception, and even defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has rushed for a score. The Bruins head into the postseason playing a very creative yet still physical style of football. -- Kevin Gemmell
The 6-foot, 293-pound tackle is the nation's No. 216 prospect and No. 20 player in California. He held offers from a number of Pac-12 programs, but the Bruins were always going to be difficult to beat.
This past weekend, Taua took an official visit to UCLA -- his fourth visit, after trips to Washington State, Oklahoma and Mississippi -- and made his commitment. Taua is the third ESPN 300 prospect to commit to UCLA in this class, joining wide receiver Austin Roberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) and cornerback Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito).
It's an intriguing pick up in two ways, as Taua has the ability to form a terrific team with 2013 defensive line signees Eddie Vanderdoes, Kylie Fitts and Kenneth Clark, adding to a dynamic group up front, but he is also part of a good group of big-man friends in Southern California, which includes USC commit Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), uncommitted ESPN 300 guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and uncommitted guard Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch). Delp doesn't hold a USC offer and looks to be a fairly solid UCLA lean, but Mama is one of the bigger Trojans-Bruins battles left on the board. Talamaivao's commitment to USC gives Steve Sarkisian's program plenty of pull with Mama, but Taua heading to UCLA swings some momentum toward Westwood.
As a senior, Taua recorded seven sacks and 36 total tackles, almost matching his junior year output, when he posted seven sacks, 49 stops and an interception.
UCLA now has verbal commitments from 13 prospects in the 2014 class, including four four-star recruits.