And now, with just the national championship game remaining, we can look back at some of the fun we had in 2019. Whether our teams did better than expected or worse, we love our teams! That is not to say that love is blind because, if it was, we wouldn’t still have lingerie stores.
Our Savvy Index wasn’t blind either. In fact, during the regular season, it had its highest ever number of accurately predicted upsets, a slight rise in regular-season predictions (.3%), and it was 29-10 in predicting bowl games, an uptick of some 13% over the past, three year average.
We’ve posted highlights throughout the regular season, so now, we’ll add a few from the bowl season:
- For the second year in a row, Boston College’s bowl appearance was either cancelled or delayed because of lightning. Either God doesn’t want Jesuits in bowl games or BC needs more AD—astute devotions—before accepting invitations.
- The Index predicted a few scores that we like, such as App State over UAB 34-17 (final was 31-17), Michigan State over Wake Forest 28-24 (final was 27-21). and Ohio over Nevada 35-21 (final was 30-21).
- However, there were some major misses such as correctly predicting North Carolina’s minor upset of Temple but missing the final score by 35 points.
- The Ohio Bobcats covered our assertion that the best bet against the odds was Ohio beating the -7.5 spread over Nevada. The Bobcats won by nine.
In the PAC-12 . . .
The only reason the PAC-12 won more bowl games (four) than it lost (three) is because of the PAC-12 North.
Three North Division teams—Oregon, Washington, and California—not only won, but beat teams that were either nationally ranked or high finishers in Power Five conferences, or both.
Washington State was the only North team to lose, but that was according to Savvy’s projection that Air Force would grind WSU with its relentless rushing attack. AFA had 371 yards at over five yards per carry.
Except for Arizona State, the South Division bowl experience was a mess, almost as if one synchronized swimmer drowned so they all drowned.
Utah was humiliated 38-10 by unranked Texas in the Alamo Bowl. That came after the Utes were drubbed 37-15 by Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game. The good news is that the PAC-12 was spared what would have been a horrific Utah loss to LSU in the playoff.
We expected USC to lose to Iowa. We didn’t expect the Trojans to be buried, 49-25.
If those were the two best teams in the PAC-12 South—and they were—then the South has no business thinking it is ready to be discussed with elites. Think about it: those two “leaders” were humbled in the national limelight by an average of 44-18.
To say that Arizona State’s win over Florida State in the Sun Bowl salvaged anything for the South would be short-sighted because: 1) Florida State finished with a losing record. 2) The Seminoles were in the midst of a coaching change. 3) Arizona State won by just six points. And, 4) ASU’s offense didn’t score a single touchdown.
Except for the Oregon Ducks, next season looks like it will be even worse for the PAC-12 on the national stage.
Washington is replacing its head coach and now has two leading skill players cutting out early for the NFL.
California continues to rise but its progress is as slow as that of quarterback Chase Garbers. How long will it take for a new offensive coordinator and new system to produce?
As we mentioned in December, Stanford has been winning less each year and now has 14 players in the transfer portal including starting quarterback K.J. Costello.
We can expect Oregon State to rise to a bowl game but it’s too early to expect the Beavers to carry the PAC-12 water.
Washington State doesn’t seem to have any answers for its defensive woes and will likely move out of bowl contention.
In the South, early personnel assessments suggest that Utah won’t win 11 again; USC will be better but not elite; Arizona State has enough to win the South and a minor bowl but not much else. UCLA, Colorado, and Arizona are going to need some breaks just to make it to bowl eligibility.
Until the PAC-12 changes its leadership and priorities, it will continue to be rated as a sub-par Power Five conference and only as long as Mario Cristobal stays at Oregon can the PAC-12 expect to have an outlier’s chance of any teams being worthy of the national championship playoff.