All season long, a debate has raged in college football about which conference is better; Pac 12 or Big 12? We were all treated with an opportunity to see the debate unfold on the field this bowl season as the two major conferences faced off in three bowl games. So far, it hasn’t gone well for the Pac 12, but they have one more chance for redemption tonight as the Oregon Ducks take on the Kansas State Wildcats in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Round one of this bowl showdown took place in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl between the Baylor Bears and UCLA Bruins. Baylor came into the game as one of the hottest offense in the country and UCLA did nothing to cool them down. The Bears raced out to 21-0 lead before UCLA finally got on the board and put the game away by halftime with a 35-10 lead. They finished the game winning 49-26 and made a strong case for the Big 12 over the Pac 12.
Round two came in the Valero Alamo Bowl between the Texas Longhorns and Oregon State Beavers. It had been an inconsistent and frustrating season for Texas and Oregon State had been one of the biggest surprises in college football. So it wasn’t all that shocking when the Beavers built up a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter. It was a little surprising, though, when Texas dug deep and rallied with 14-unanswered fourth-quarter points off two touchdown passes from quarterback David Ash. The Longhorns won the game 31-27 and pushed the Big 12 to 2-0 against the Pac 12.
So now all that’s left is the big game: K-State and Oregon. In a showdown that was nearly for the national championship, there will be plenty to play for in this one other than just a fancy trophy and the ticker tape coming down in your team’s colors during the post-game celebration. For Kansas State, they have a chance to put the finishing touches on a 12-win season, send out Collin Klein in style and close the book on the debate between the conferences for at least a couple of months.
For Oregon, they have the reputation of the entire Pac 12 riding on their shoulders. It’s no secret that this bowl season has been a disappointment for the conference (3-4 so far), and losing two to the Big 12 hurts their standing in the conference power rankings discussion. Oregon has a chance, with an impressive win, to at least keep the discussion going. There’s been too much damage done to definitively win this debate with Big 12 fans, but they could give Pac 12 supporters some ammunition to at least fuel the debate.
So tonight, the Oregon Ducks will take the field with the final opportunity to make a case for the Pac 12 this bowl season. Without a strong showing from them, the reputation of the conference will take a huge hit and the debate of Big 12 vs Pac 12 will officially be over. And what would college football be without a little more hotly contested debate?