Monday, July 31, 2017

PAC-12 2017 Projections

The conference is trying to keep up with the powers in the power five, and overall, it is not working. Washington did make the playoffs last season, but they were seriously outclassed. The Huskies figure to make another run this season, but can they escape the USC Trojans for the conference title, those same Trojans that beat them in Seattle last season?

1. Washington: The Huskies broke through and won the PAC-12 last season, but fell short in the national semifinal. What's important to note is that despite some serious losses on defense, the offense returns mostly intact. Look for the Huskies to win the North and push for another playoff birth.

2. Washington State: The Cougars are at the end of an open window period to steal a conference title game birth this season, as this is their final ride with Luke Falk at QB. Despite that, Mike Leach has done an amazing job with this program, and sustainability looks rock solid.

3. Stanford: It's so hard to bet against David Shaw and the Cardinal, but with Christian McCaffrey gone, and an unstable QB situation ongoing, Stanford looks to be a step or two behind the Huskies and Cougars for now, but that is a small window.

4. Oregon: Willie Taggart comes on board in the midst of a turbulent period for the Ducks. The defense has been in tatters, and there is nowhere to go but up for that side of the ball. The young talent on offense, however, keeps this team alive in year one.

5. California: Justin Wilcox is going to have to change an all offense, no defense culture at Cal, and balancing out this roster will be a huge challenge early.

6. Oregon State: Gary Anderson's Beavers showed signs of lie last season, but there is not enough life around to get out of the North cellar just yet. Thomas Tyner will be an interesting story at RB. I can tell you one thing. The Beavers are more promising than Arizona.

1. USC: It seems as if resurgence happened the minute the football was handed over to Sam Darnold at QB. There were some major losses, and the roster is not yet perfect, but even an imperfect USC team is better than most others.

2. Colorado: The buffaloes may be just as good as they were a year ago, even with Montez taking over at QB. Look for the Buffs to make another major push in the South, but can they get by the Trojans?

3. Utah: The Utes always seem to have just enough in the tank to survive, but never enough to truly thrive. They need health in the backfield on offense, and they need to find another running threat with the departure of Joe Williams.

4. UCLA: Last year was a train wreck for the Bruins. The offense was awful, and the defense wore out early. Josh Rosen looked like he lost his ability. The bad news is that I have not seen enough change on offense in terms of athletes to make me think that Jedd Fisch will have any more luck in his first go as OC.

5. Arizona State: I have been saying that Todd Graham was overrated for years now. It seems as if others have caught on. His roster is devoid of any major talent on defense, and the Sun Devils look like a team that is no longer responding to his style of coaching.

6. Arizona: Rich Rodriguez does not have a QB. He does not have much of an offense. Was this a guy who was worth a major contract extension before last season? The Wildcats may be the worst team in the conference.

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