Can Pac-12 recover its bowl mojo?

December 27, 2018 01:51 PM

A major conference that went 1-8 straight up and 2-7 against the spread last postseason has five bowl appearances still ahead.

We’re talking, of course, about the Pac-12. Though not quite falling to “mid-major” status amidst the likes of the Mountain West or American Athletic conferences, the Pac-12 is in danger of losing relevance if its power programs can’t rebound. Here’s a quick review of last season’s SEVEN non-covers, with the size of each market miss in parenthesis.

Wash. State (plus 2.5) lost to Mich. State 42-17 (22.5)

Oregon (-7) lost to Boise State 38-28 (17)

Ariz. State (plus 4.5) lost to NC State 52-31 (16.5)

UCLA (plus 6) lost to Kansas State 35-17 (12)

USC (plus 10) lost to Ohio State 24-7 (7)

Arizona (-2.5) lost to Purdue 38-35 (5.5)

Washington (plus 3) lost to Penn State 35-28 (4)

Five of the seven failures missed by a touchdown or more, four by double digits. The only point spread covers a year ago were Utah (-7) over West Virginia 30-14, against an opponent dealing with the absence of a start quarterback, and Stanford (plus 3) losing a close one to TCU 39-37. 

Two more Pac-12 losses so far this season. Arizona State (plus 6) lost to Fresno State 31-20 in Las Vegas. California (-1.5) lost 10-7 in overtime to TCU this past Wednesday night in Tucson, in one of the worst bowl games ever played. (Running Pac-12 two-season total: 1-10 straight up, 2-9 ATS.)

Will the market do a better job of pricing the Pac-12 the rest of the way? Here’s a look at how sharps have been betting the league’s remaining appearances…

  • Washington State (-3) was faded hard in Friday’s Alamo Bowl against Iowa State (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) The opening line of Wazzou -5 didn’t last long. There are indicators that the number could drop even further.
  • Stanford (-6) was also faded from an opener of -6.5 in its game against Pittsburgh in Monday’s Sun Bowl (CBS, 2 p.m.)
  • Oregon (-2.5) rose from an opener of -1.5 in Monday’s Redbox bowl against Michigan State (FOX, 3 p.m.). That could rise further by kickoff if the public believes the Ducks will respond to QB Justin Herbert sticking around.
  • Utah (-7) was bet up from an opener of -6.5 vs. Northwestern in Monday’s Holiday Bowl (FS1, 7 p.m.). The underdog Wildcats haven’t been getting market respect all season.
  • Washington (plus 6.5) was faded from an opener of Ohio State -5 in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day (ESPN, 5 p.m.)

Not a good sign for the league that the participants in its championship game, Washington and Washington State, were faded so hard vs. quality opposition. But the league is favored to win four of its five remaining bowls. 

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