Pac-12 bowl season face plant?

Last year, the Pac-12 had a quasi-valid excuse for its 2-5 face plant in the bowl season.

Because 10-2 and fifth-ranked USC was ineligible for the postseason, the conference was missing a quality team, and the Trojans' absence forced everyone other than Oregon up a notch in the bowl selection pecking order.

Of course, while you were trying to explain that, you were Nelsoned five times by trolls from other conferences.

The Pac-12, favored in seven of its eight bowl games, is presently 2-3 with three bowl games to play. It owns wins over Nevada and Navy, hardly a powerhouse pair. UCLA got bludgeoned by Baylor, and Washington and Oregon State threw up on themselves while blowing leads to Boise State and Texas, respectively.

The Big 12 showdown with the Pac-12 for the title of "Second Best Conference" has gone to the fly-over states, even if Oregon beats Kansas State.

The Bruins are likely to fall out of the final top 25. The Beavers also figure to tumble.

Stanford faces a no-win situation in the Rose Bowl. It's playing unranked, five-loss Wisconsin. Anything less than a dominant win will be greeted with a national, "Neh."

An Oregon loss will be met with a variety of dismissive insults. And it's not hard to imagine USC losing to the only bowl team with a losing record, Georgia Tech, today in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Are we on the brink of a complete meltdown, one that comes after we less than a month ago entertained the notion of going 8-0?

It's possible.

Why does that matter? Because it affects the next set of preseason rankings, and -- more important -- it sends ripples of negative perception out as we head toward a four-team playoff in 2014.

If the Pac-12 is widely viewed as the third best conference, well behind the SEC and Big 12, then when a selection committee compares, say, 11-1 Stanford and 11-1 Baylor for a playoff spot, it's likely going to leave the Pac-12 team behind.

Even with the new playoff, perception will be a critical ingredient in the process. Perhaps even more critical than before under the BCS system.

Sure, things could start to trend up in 2013, which looks promising for the conference. But perception isn't a one-year deal.

It might pain many of you to say the following, but we humbly suggest you consider repeating this: "Go Trojans;" "Go Cardinal;" "Go Ducks."

Sorry ... couldn't hear you guys over the crickets.