It’s the early ’90s all over again, as #4 Washington takes on #8 Colorado in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game in Santa Clara on Friday. Both teams are having renaissance seasons reminiscent of 25yrs ago, when both programs were national powers. This is the third consecutive year the title game will be held in the neutral home of the 49ers.
Since neither school has played in the title game previously, and boast numerous Bay Area alumni, it’ll be interesting to see the attendance for the game. The previous two games had 45K (on a Fri.) and 58K fans; with Stanford playing in the second one on a Saturday, and undoubtedly helping bump up attendance. This year’s matchup is also the second best in terms of national college football playoff rankings, after 2014’s #2 Oregon vs #7 Arizona (yes, hard to believe).
The neutral site game can still work. But the conference may want to consider playing the game at the Rose Bowl. These days, the conference champion isn’t assured of playing in the Rose Bowl Game, so it’s not guaranteed the conference winner would play two consecutive games there to end the season. The Rose Bowl has an aura that not many venues have in college football, something the conference should take advantage of by staging its premier game there. Los Angeles is a recruiting hotbed, so two programs would be rewarded by gaining additional exposure to those athletes.
The area wasn’t great for the conference basketball tournament, but football might be a different story. And while so many conferences are playing their championships in modern NFL stadiums, there’s an intrigue factor about playing a conference championship in a historic stadium that speaks to college football. Even for a conference that sees itself on the tech and media cutting edge.