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Pac-12 could post good bowl record

A record eight Pac-12 teams are in bowl games this season. I’m predicting a 7-1 record for the conference.

That’s bold, if I say so myself.

The shoo-ins are Arizona over Nevada (Dec. 15, New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque) and Arizona State over Navy (Dec. 29, Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco).

The most competitive games figure to be Washington-Boise State (Dec. 22, Las Vegas Bowl), UCLA-Baylor (Dec. 27, Holiday Bowl, San Diego), Oregon State-Texas (Dec. 29, Alamo Bowl, San Antonio), USC-Georgia Tech (Dec. 31, Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas), Stanford-Wisconsin (Jan. 1, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.) and Oregon-Kansas State (Jan. 3, Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.).

Of these Pac-12 participants, I’m least confident in Washington.

UCLA-Baylor could be even more of a shootout than Oregon-K-State. The Bruins will have to play well, and this game might not be over, as someone once said, till it’s over.

The return of Barry Alvarez to coach Wisconsin for one game makes a Badgers’ supreme effort possible, but the Stanford team that beat Oregon and Oregon State should be strong enough to win this Rose Bowl.

The one loss I’m picking? Hate to say it, but it’s Oregon State.

Not that the Beavers aren’t good enough to beat the Longhorns. They look like the better all-around team to me. But it will take an above-average day for the Oregon State quarterback, or quarterbacks. And both Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz have been inconsistent. Neither has played that well in a challenging game since October. If OSU had had top-of-the-line QB play all season, the Beavers might be 11-1 and in the Rose Bowl.

Mike Riley is 5-1 coaching the Beavers in bowls. Maybe the extra preparation will help his signal-callers. If not, Oregon State will have to win both the defense and special teams battles.

I like the Ducks, 45-35. Oregon will be hungry, and Chip Kelly won’t hold anything back. Baylor scored 52 in knocking the Wildcats out of the national championship picture. The Ducks’ defense has had injury problems and will need some heroic plays on that side of the ball. Both teams are plus-19 in turnover margin for the season, so something has to give. Kansas State will be game and inspired, but does not quite fit the profile — exceptionally physical up front, SEC-like — of teams that beat the Ducks.

Happy birthday

Dec. 13, 1938 — Tom Shaw, PGA Tour pro from Milwaukie (age 74)

Dec. 13, 1961 — Gary Zimmerman, NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman from the University of Oregon (age 51)

Dec. 19, 1964 — Arvydas Sabonis, former Blazer (age 48)

Dec. 16, 1966 — Clifford Robinson, former Blazer (age 46)

Dec. 14, 1988 — Nicolas Batum, Blazer forward (age 24)

Oregon sports history

Dec. 13, 2000 — Behind Damon Stoudamire’s 21 points (all in the second half and five more than Kobe Bryant’s total for the game), the Trail Blazers beat the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers 96-86 at the Rose Garden. The win vaults Portland (16-8) ahead of the Lakers (15-9) in the NBA Pacific Division. Laker center Shaquille O’Neal makes just 7 of 21 field-goal attempts against what he called “a lot of grabbing ... a lot of WWF basketball,” then adds: “Even though they won, they still can’t beat us.”

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