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Bowl season is right up their alley

Narrow, exciting USC and UCLA bowl victories sum up their seasons perfectly

Bowl season blew by faster than Oregon by Florida State during the Rose Bowl and Jim Mora by Bill Snyder after the Alamo.

Oregon snapped one play every 16 seconds against the Seminoles, roughly the same rate referees tossed penalty flags at UCLA against Kansas State.

USC's three-point victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl perfectly encapsulated a herky-jerky, down-and-up season.

The Trojans raced to an early lead no one was convinced they could hold, with the game coming down to a Hail Mary no was convinced they could defend.

First-year coach Steve Sarkisian added two wins to his pejorative nickname "Seven-win Sark," as USC finished 9-4 with a future Sarkisian has called "ridiculously bright" 137 times since the Notre Dame game.

If only Sark could get the fan base to buy in and purchase sunglasses.

UCLA's Mora became "10-win Jim" a second straight year as people scratched their heads to make sense of an exit victory that was almost as painful to watch as the Stanford loss.

The Bruins did their best USC impression by almost blowing a huge lead in an Alamo Bowl that, like the original one involving Davy Crockett, almost ended in a fight.

UCLA walked away from a 10-3 season with a wide smile that was missing two front teeth — Stanford and Oregon.

Bruin tomorrows are bright so long as you don't read between Mora's cryptic comments regarding his unrequited love for UCLA "at this time."

UCLA has to replace Brett Hundley and tie up some tethers. The Bruins finished with more passing yards than penalty yards against Kansas State, but it was close, 136 to 128.

UCLA had more penalties (15) than completed passes (12) and averaged 8.5 yards per penalty versus 5.2 yards per pass.

More than anything, that's just weird.

The first College Football Playoff season was such a stunning, unqualified success you wonder why smart people didn't think of this in 1952.

The semifinal games in the Rose and Sugar bowls were the most watched programs in the history of cable television.

We know this from data collected from Nielsen families with help from the Kardashian and "Duck Dynasty" families.

The Sugar Bowl ratings alone probably made producers of "Hardcore Pawn" want to close up their hock-it haberdashery.

ESPN will end up broadcasting 38 of the 39 postseason games with plans to wrest "Hoarders" away from the A&E network.

The Pac-12 ended an all-time season that was smudged only by prickly bowl performances from Arizona (Fiesta) and Washington (Cactus).

The Pac-12 is 6-2 in the postseason with a chance for Oregon to pick up a second win in next Monday's championship game.

While most people have been thrilled with the Pac-12's bowl performance, a few hard-to-please USC fans have taken to calling Commissioner Scott "Six-win Larry."

An Oregon victory in the national title game will cap, arguably, the greatest football season in Pac-12 history.

If you believe in omens, Oregon defeated Ohio State in the first NCAA basketball playoff in 1939.

Oregon, this year, defeated Florida State by 39 points. There are also 39 postseason games this season.

Oregon's pregame movie should be a no-brainer: "The 39 Steps"

This was the bowl season the Pac-12 officially surpassed the Southeastern Conference for collegiate supremacy. Note: It could be a lease without an option to buy.

The SEC won seven bowl games, but people care only about the five it lost.

Ego-sapping defeat was incurred by the five top teams in the previously unimpeachable SEC West, regarded by the South as the best-led division since Gen. Patton's.

The next time someone from Biloxi says "We play defense in the SEC," tell them to defend this:

Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Louisiana State went 0-5 in the bowls while giving up 198 points —an average of 39.6 per team.

This was a shocking collapse for a division that, on Oct. 26, boasted four of the top six teams in the inaugural release of the CFP ranking.

The four-team playoff, otherwise, has checked all the boxes and has already made a mockery of the two-team Bowl Championship Series.

In the BCS rankings system, the teams that lost the semifinal games, Alabama and Florida State, would have been paired in the national title game.

The teams that defeated those schools, Oregon and Ohio State, would have finished No. 3 and No. 4.

Pac-12 fans who thought the old system was weighted against the West can wonder how many other times the BCS might have gotten it wrong.

The league advanced only three teams to BCS title games — USC in 2004 and '05, Oregon in 2010 — but seven times in 16 years had a team finish third or fourth.

The Big Ten had five teams finish No. 3 or No. 4 in the BCS era. Ohio State was fourth in 1998 and 2005, but didn't get a chance to play for the title those years.

"Obviously, we're really thankful for the playoff system," Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott said after running over Alabama for 230 yards in the Sugar Bowl. "They gave us a chance to go out there and show that we're one of the better teams in the nation and deserve to be in the national championship."

The playoff has successfully returned the excitement of bowl season to New Year's Eve and Day, but it can never be perfect so long as five major conferences are competing for four playoff spots.

Texas Christian had a legitimate beef this year after being dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 after a 52-point win over Iowa State.

TCU proved it belonged in the conversation with an emphatic, primal-scream, 42-3 victory over Mississippi in the Peach Bowl.

The selection committee, however, did not pick the wrong four teams. Ohio State proved that with its win over top-ranked Alabama.

The committee, more than the polls, also suspected Florida State was a borderline fraud. It would have also been unfathomable to leave out an undefeated, defending national champion riding a 29-game winning streak.

The committee could have, though, just as easily, and without any loss of seeding credibility, paired Oregon and Ohio State in a traditional Rose Bowl on Jan.1.

Instead, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gets to host "our" game in his stadium-a-go-go on Jan. 12 in Arlington.

The new system has been a monumental improvement but will also get re-tested the next two years, when the national semifinals will be held Dec. 31.

The Rose and Sugar bowls will remain in their regular Jan.1 time slots, but after all the semifinal confetti has fallen.

It is doubtful these prime real estate bowls can match cable records with 56.5 million combined viewers.

Next year at this time, we might be comparing our two hottest bowl properties against the cable ratings for "Love It or List It."


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