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Ranking the Watchability of the Pac-12's Bowl Games in 2019

Ranking the Watchability of the Pac-12's Bowl Games in 2019

Ranking the Watchability of the Pac-12's Bowl Games in 2019

The 2019 postseason marks a third straight for the Pac-12 without a representative in the College Football Playoff. However, with Oregon in the Rose Bowl; Chris Petersen's swan song at Washington; Utah squaring off with Texas at the Alamo; and more, the promise of an exciting bowl season awaits.

Pac-12 teams recovered from a disastrous 2017 showing in bowls, finishing last season around .500. Getting to the positive side of that equation in 2019 will be central to continuing to rewrite the conference's national narrative.

1. Rose Bowl — Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)

Jan. 1 – 5 p.m. ET, ABC

For the first time in five years, and the fourth in 10, the Oregon Ducks spend New Year's in Pasadena. Returning to the Rose Bowl may seem like old hat given this current run, but not in historical context. Before reaching the 1995 Granddaddy of 'Em All, the Ducks had not been in almost four decades.

What's more, getting to this particular Rose Bowl Game marks an important milestone in the program's resurrection from the depths of 4-8. A senior class responsible for the turnaround says farewell, while a young crop of stars look to lay the foundation for the future.

Wisconsin's always-tough style against Oregon's new brand of physical football under Mario Cristobal promises for a hard-hitting Rose Bowl.

2. Las Vegas Bowl — Washington (7-5) vs. Boise State (12-1)

Dec. 21 – 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

It's a storyline that writes itself: Head coach Chris Petersen is stepping away from the game near the height of a tenure at Washington that brought the Huskies back to prominence, and he's facing a program he helped guide to unprecedented heights previously.

Boise State continued to flourish under Petersen's successor, Bryan Harsin. This season's is the program's third Mountain West Conference championship since 2014. The MW representative has performed well in the Las Vegas in recent years, part of a larger overall trend for the conference. Boise State's 2017 win over Oregon is the middle of a three-year run for the conference.

3. Alamo Bowl — Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5)

Dec. 31 – 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Utah's New Year's Six bowl slight speaks to the absurdity of certain guaranteed tie-ins in the system. Nevertheless, the 11-win Pac-12 South division champions will not be lacking for motivation in the Alamo Bowl. The Utes aim to begin a new bowl winning streak after last year's Holiday Bowl loss snapped the program's old one at five (which also ended an unbelievable run of 14-of-15 dating back to 1999).

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The Alamo Bowl also marks the swan song of Utes instant legends Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss, and Bradlee Anae. Facing Texas just a short drive from Austin adds some extra electricity to this one.

4. Holiday Bowl — USC (8-4) vs. Iowa (9-3)

Dec. 27 – 8 p.m. ET, FS1

USC's revamped offense in 2019 would look at home in one of those classic Holiday Bowls of the 1980s, back when the Western Athletic Conference and old Big 8 would combine for basketball scores in America's Finest City. In the 21st century, Big Ten representative Iowa brings a physical defense into San Diego that would much prefer a lower-scoring game, given its stellar defensive yield of just 13.2 points per game.

The Trojans would like to avoid a repeat of their last Holiday Bowl visit: In 2015, Jack Cichy made sacks on three consecutive snaps. Iowa's A.J. Epenesa has the ability to pull off a similar feat.

5. Cheez-It Bowl — Washington State (6-6) vs. Air Force (10-2)

Dec. 27 – 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The 2018 Cheez-It Bowl gained immediate infamy for the offensive anemia TCU and Cal brought to the Valley of the Sun. Do not expect a repeat.

Anthony Gordon rewrote a few Washington State passing records in 2019, including a nine-touchdown performance against UCLA. The Cougars' air-raid attack could not be any more of a contrast with Air Force's version of the option, but the Falcons can and will score. They put up 34.3 points per game during the regular season behind Taven Birdow, Timothy Jackson and Kadin Remsberg.

6. Sun Bowl — Arizona State (7-5) vs. Florida State (6-6)

Dec. 31 – 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Although he won't be coaching the Seminoles, there's an interesting connection in this Sun Bowl matchup with former Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell taking over at Florida State in 2020. In the meantime, the Seminoles try to salvage a wildly up-and-down season and restart a new streak of .500-plus finishes after last season ended the 40-year run.

The Sun Devils, meanwhile, are seeking their first bowl win in five years.

7. Redbox Bowl — Cal (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6)

Dec. 30 – 4 p.m. ET, FOX

A season that saw budding College Football Playoff hopes fizzle out, then turn into the prospect of missing the postseason altogether, ended on a high note for Cal. The Golden Bears are guaranteed to finish above .500 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2008-09, facing an Illinois team aiming for its first above .500 finish in 12 years.

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.