Canzano: Pac-12 conference needs Oregon State to fly early flag with LA Bowl win


LOS ANGELES – Oregon State received a good love from Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night. The late night talk show host introduced Jonathan Smith’s program to his audience before the LA Bowl and even wrote lines for some of them.

“I’m Jack Colletto,” said the OSU linebacker and occasional quarterback, “I play everywhere and I’m engaged to Pete Davidson.”

Linebacker Andrezej Hughes-Murray confessed: “I can’t sleep without a night light.”

Defensive back Jaydon Grant admitted, “I collect antique purses.”

It was solid exposure for a program that hasn’t played a bowl game in eight years. But today I can’t help but think about what Oregon State – the football program – might have said on Kimmel’s Show.

How about something like “I’m Oregon State … and I’m sick of the Pac-12 being smiled at.”

Some thoughts on the eve of the game:

♦ The Pac-12 has six bowl games. The LA Bowl is the only one where a conference team is preferred by bookmakers. Utah State hails from the Mountain West Conference which gave the Pac-12 all sorts of problems this season. The state of San Diego beat Utah and Arizona. BYU went 5-0 against the Pac-12. This absolutely feels like a must-have for the Pac-12 if it is to avoid some early derogatory bowl season narrative.

♦ The Mountain West Conference is 13-12 all-time vs. Pac-12 teams in bowl games. But Boise State has seven of those wins, and Utah State is not Boise State. This is a very good game for the Pac-12 and Oregon State must deliver.

♦ Bowl results are often about which team wants to be more in the game. This could explain why the MWC traditionally plays well compared to the announced competition. But Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said to me this week, “We’re here to win this bowl game.” I think it means a lot to OSU to run away with a bowl game win. Keep that in mind.

♦ Smith was very busy signing the contract early and preparing the bowl. OSU lost to Oregon in a rivalry game on November 27th. The following morning, Smith was on a 5 a.m. commercial flight from Eugene to Florida to recruit recruits. The next day he was in Dallas. A day later he made home calls in Salt Lake City. He then spent two days and one night in Southern California. He came home for training last Saturday, then the Beavers took off an LA Bowl acceptance on Sunday, and then left for Seattle that afternoon, where Smith made two more home calls with recruits. How was your week?

♦ I like a lot of what we’ve seen from Oregon State this season, but the Beavers weren’t a good road team. This is a neutral site game at SoFi Stadium so make it what you want. But OSU were 6-0 at home and 5-1 away this season. Are we going to get the Beavers team that defeated Utah at home? Or the one who lost to Cal and Colorado on the street?

♦ Oregon has a new coach. Washington too. Stanford and Cal had a disappointing 2021 season, and Washington State‘s Jake Dickert will be in charge in his first full season in 2022. What I’m saying is that Oregon State is the most stable thing in the North Division. Good momentum outside of bowl season could prepare the Beavers for a nice off-season and good stability in 2022.

♦ Commissioner George Kliavkoff needed a Pac-12 team in the college football playoffs to increase the leverage he would bring to the next round of media rights negotiations. It did not happen. There is nothing he can do to prevent the Pac-12 from being left out again. But I suspect he’s going hard for a record of .500 or better in the conference bowl games. A good performance by Oregon State on Saturday would be a solid start. I like Utah over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl (a bit), but I have a hard time finding Pac-12 Bowl games that I like the matchups at. I think the LA Bowl is a must for the Pac-12 because of that.

How many victories do you see?

Pac-12 Bowl Matches:

LA Bowl: December 18 – Oregon State (7-5) vs. Utah State (10-3)

Holiday bowl: December 28 – UCLA (8-4) vs. No. 18 North Carolina State (9-3)

Alamo bowl: December 29 – No. 14 Oregon (10-3) vs. No. 16 Oklahoma (10-2)

Las Vegas Bowl: December 30 – Arizona State (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (8-4)

Sunshell: December 31 – Washington State (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5)

Bowl of roses: Jan 1 – No. 11 Utah (10-3) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (10-2)

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