A Pac 10 Farewell: Bowl Crunching

Auburn and Oregon brought the 2010 college football season to a close, and with it came a statistical end to the Pacific 10 conference.  The Ducks were denied an opportunity to provide a  championship bookend for a league that saw Southern California capture the crown for the inaugural year of 1978.  But with one final game played, we receive one last digit, allowing us to close the book on a thirty-two year union of western programs.

As a ten member league increases by two, we prepare for a new beginning. The Pacific 12 will replace that conference of old, leaving memories of what was, and numerical figures to detail the events.

It’s no mystery that the Trojans were the most dominant program of the target period, but when you crunch the bowl figures, the overall picture of performance is made clear.  These numbers reflect bowl games played from the inaugural ’78 season (December ’78-January ’79) to the conference’s final bowl game in January 2011.  Also, victories vacated by the NCAA are inclusive, adding to the totals for USC, Florida State, and Alabama.

Pac 10 Bowl appearances 1978-2010

School gms W L T % 2000-pres %
USC 24 14 10 0 .583 7-2 .777
Washington 23 13 10 0 .565 3-2 .600
UCLA 22 12 9 1 .545 3-5 .375
Oregon 18 7 11 0 .388 4-7 .363
Arizona St. 14 7 7 0 .500 2-4 .333
Arizona 14 6 7 1 .428 1-3 .250
Cal 12 8 4 0 .666 5-2 .714
Stanford 11 5 6 0 .454 2-3 .400
Oregon St. 9 6 3 0 .666 6-2 .750
Washington St. 8 5 3 0 .625 2-1 .666
Total 155 83 70 2 .535 35-31 .530

Oregon State and Cal have the best bowl winning percentages in conference, but combine for fewer individual appearances than USC, Washington, and UCLA. Success has also arrived more recent for the Beavers and Bears, after appearing as a non factor and non existent before 2000.

Southern California has dominated the 21st century.  It’s 7-2 bowl record not only tops the league, but also ranks among the nation’s best for the period. In contrast, Oregon, the reigning conference champ, has been the Pac 10 worst in postseason play.

Incoming members’ 1978-2010

School Gms W L T % 2000-pres %
Colorado 18 8 10 0 .444 1-4 .200
Utah 15 10 5 0 .666 8-2 .800

The incoming programs reveal a tale of two cities. Utah has been more triumphant, while Colorado more futile, yet it is the Buffaloes possessing a national championship. Both schools enter with identical 3-2 records against Pac 10 opponents in bowl games, but the Utes’ body of work is even more impressive when broken down by overall victims.

Since 1978, Utah, residing in mid major conferences, is 6-3 in bowl games featuring members from automatic qualifying leagues.   Among those ambushed by the Utes, you’ll find USC, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Cal, Pittsburgh, and Arizona.  Utah is also a perfect 2-0 in BCS bowl games.

Bowl winning percentage 2000-present


Gms W L


Big East

57 35 22



91 53 38


Pac 10

66 35 31



86 43 43



83 41 42


Big 10

81 34 47


How does the Pac 10 stack up to other conferences?  It is difficult to calculate numbers for an overall comparison that would take us back to 1978.  Realignment, dissolution, and the continuous shifting of schools presents a problem for tabulation.  The old Southwest conference faded, and in doing so, the Big XII emerged. Programs have jumped in an out of several conferences, creating a statistical mess that I’m not willing to tackle.

So instead, I compiled the statistics from 2000 to present, a period with more stability.  The final tally reflects contributions by Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College for both the Big East and ACC, depending on their allegiance in particular years.

For all the flak the Big East receives, which includes those questioning its automatic qualifying status, it is the statistical best in Bowl games this century.  The Pac 10, often perceived nationally as irrelevant, trails only the SEC and Big East in winning percentage.  Meanwhile, two media darlings, Big XII and Big 10 finished .500 and worst in games played overall.  Another example of popularity foreshadowing production can be found in BCS bowl game results.

BCS Bowl winning percentage


Gms W L



21 15 6


Pac 10

15 10 5


Big 10

23 11 12


Big East

13 6 7



18 8 10



13 2 11


In the biggest bowl games, the SEC is out in front, followed closely by the Pac 10.  Individually, USC is 6-1 in BCS performance.  The six victories tie Ohio State for the best mark, though the vacation of the 2005 Orange Bowl leaves the Buckeyes standing alone.  With the Trojans providing the conference muscle, Oregon State (1-0), Washington  (1-0),  Stanford (1-1), Oregon (2-3), UCLA (0-1), and Washington State (0-1), contributed to the overall win-loss figures.

Despite the Big Ten scrutiny, mostly directed towards Ohio State and Jim Tressel, the conference jumps to third on the bigger stage.  The Big XII, often a favorite among poll voters and BCS computers, falls further to fifth.  Oklahoma is the main contributor to its failure, yet Bob Stoops and the Sooners rarely suffered the same criticism as Tressel’s Buckeyes.

For the majority of the Pac 10’s existence, the Rose Bowl has been the ultimate destination, representing the crown jewel of each season.  The formation of the BCS set the bar a little higher, along with disrupting traditional matchups along the way, but the conference champion has appeared in the Granddaddy of them all more often than not.

Rose Bowl Appearances 1978-present





9 3



4 2



3 2


Arizona St.

1 1



0 1



0 2


Washington St.

0 2



17 13


Oregon State and Cal failed to make Rose Bowl appearances as members of the Pac 10. Arizona hasn’t played a postseason game in Pasadena in its entire football existence.  The tabulation above also includes two non traditional games played, with Oklahoma paired with Washington State and USC appearing in the classic Rose Bowl game versus Texas.  Scraping the outsiders from the figures, the Pac 10 was 18-10 (.642) in games against its Midwestern brothers from the Big Ten.

Since 1978, the Granddaddy also produced three National Champions from the Pac 10.  Southern California in’78 and 2003, along with Washington in ’91, were crowned at the conclusion of Rose Bowl victories.  The conferences 4th national champ (’04 USC) was crowned in the Orange Bowl.

Up Next: The out of conference crunch


~ by Anthony on January 19, 2011.

2 Responses to “A Pac 10 Farewell: Bowl Crunching”

  1. […] Home › NCAA Football › A Pac 10 Farewell: Bowl Crunching […]

  2. i don’t think the stats should reflect the ncaa sanctions. the double standards with auburn and other schools are a joke and they have no respect from any fan or admin (or shouldn’t).

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