As of the 30th, our football teams in the Pac-10 were three and zero in their bowl games. The last two days of the 2008 calendar year brought the Pac-10's last bowl games for the season. The Sun Bowl was played in El Paso, Texas and featured Oregon State. And the Rose Bowl, "the granddaddy of them all", was played in Pasadena after a really nifty parade. We at WFG were there to see the goings on.
I got to see the Sun Bowl, believe it or not. My wife and I watched the Beavers beat the Pittsburgh Panthers by the low score of 3-0. This is the lowest scoring major bowl game in fifty years. In fact, the only points came towards the end of the first half. Beaver place kicker Justin Kahut scored from 44 yards out on a very windy day in west Texas. What was surprising, naturally, was the lack of offense. Pitt led the Big East conference in scoring this year, averaging 29.3 points a game leading up to the Sun Bowl. But it was the day of the Beavers's defense. Linebacker Victor Butler led the day with four sacks, including a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
If the Sun Bowl was a display of defense, then the Rose Bowl could be considered an outpouring of offense. The University of Southern California Trojans met Big Ten conference champ Penn State in Pasadena. The end result was a 38-24 victory for the Trojans. USC quarterback Mark Sanchez had a 413 passing yard day with four touchdowns. Come to think of it, four of those touchdowns and a field goal were scored on the first five offensive possessions USC had in the first half. Those 31 points set a USC Rose Bowl record for points in the first half.
Penn State, led by longtime coach Joe Paterno, made things interesting in the second half. In fact, Penn State gained 410 yards during the game. That's almost twice the average yardage the Trojan defense allowed during the regular season. The Nittany Lions also turned the ball over three times and had nine penalties.
This Rose Bowl capped a tremendous year for the Trojans. Led by coach Pete Carroll, USC has won seven consecutive Pac-10 conference champion titles and played in seven consecutive BCS bowl games. Both of those are records. In fact, since taking over Trojan football in 2002, Coach Carroll has only lost nine games to 82 wins.