It’s the Wild, Wild West! With all the talk about how great the SEC is, how balanced the Big Ten is, and how much better the ACC has gotten, the PAC-12 seemingly gets lost in the shuffle as it might be the most fun conference to watch with how explosive some offenses are. Usually the best quarterback prospects come from this conference especially as they boasted Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen from this year’s NFL draft. With that being said, lets take a look at the schools from the conference.
Despite a disappointing season, there have been talks about how the Golden Bears should be the breakout team in the conference. They did not lose any key players, so no need to replace anyone. Experience could be a key factor here, but Cal needs to improve in every possible facet if they want to make some noise. That being said though, expect big things from them.
They really should use the slogan “Fear the Quack” as Oregon could be the class of not only the division, but also the conference. They are super incredibly talented and are finally back to being that powerhouse team since the Chip Kelly era. Their strength will be their defense which might be the best in the entire conference as that could be the biggest factor into whether they win the division or not. Plus they boast a talented quarterback in Justin Herbert as he will lead a potentially potent offense.
This program was always on cusp of being National Championship caliber good, but then when things looked optimistic, they manage to fall short of expectations and take a step back. They do have experience on the offense, but not enough explosiveness. Their hope is that their talented quarterback Jake Luton can take charge and make things happen on offense. The defense has potential, but there is a lot of uncertainty too. They will be an interesting case.
The Cardinals might have had some great seasons of late, but they are primed to go on to do big things. They are on the cusp of becoming a powerhouse side and possibly making a trip to the National Championship game. They boast a talented player in Bryce Love, but there is a question mark as their defense could be the biggest problem with this squad. If the defense can hold up and help their awesome offense, this might be the sleeper pick to win the division.
Many Huskies fans might feel like they were slighted in the Top 25 rankings as they only got a 6 ranking (heaven forbid!), but they might have a point as some think that this a team that could make the College Football Playoffs. Often argued as the best side in the conference, we at Rowe Sports Talk Network can understand as last year they were on the brink of possibly being a National Champion. They have an experienced quarterback in Jake Browning as he is a four year starter, but the biggest question will be who will replace Vita Vea in their defensive corp. With a first weekend matchup against Auburn, they will have to make a statement.
There seems to be potential with this team as every thing looks good, but then when they actually play, everything seemed lackluster. Mike Leach is trying to make this into a better program, but this might be the most frustrating program in all of College Football. Why can’t they make any noise? They might not be able to do much this season though as they are in a very tough division especially with the likes of Washington, Stanford, and Oregon in the division.
Kevin Sumlin might have been one of the best hires during the offseason as this was a program that needed something big if they wanted to return to being a great program. If Sumlin does what he did with Texas A&M, then the future is bright for the Wildcats. He also comes with a good amount of talent and with how the South Division is this year, he might have a chance to go to the PAC-12 championship.
Herm Edwards? Yeah, that Herm Edwards. Edwards is the new head coach for a program that hasn’t done much in the past. He is great at preaching football to his players, but in his last years in Kansas City, they struggled. This might not have been a sexy selection given his age, but the hope is to make the Sun Devils relevant again. Quarterback play shouldn’t be an issue this year, but the running back situation might be a problem. We will see what happens once the season gets going.
It hasn’t been easy since the Buffaloes joined the conference a few years back as last year, their 5-7 record, was their second best record since becoming a PAC-12 side. Heck, they haven’t been relevant in over a decade in College Football. They need to make strides this year if they want to become relevant again. This isn’t an easy conference by any means, but they need to improve some how and in some way. Yes 2016 was a great year for them, but they need to rebound in 2018 after how last season ended especially in this division.
Holy moly! Here comes Chip Kelly again. He might have been one of the best head coaches in College Football when he was with Oregon, but he undoubtedly should make UCLA a strong contender this season. And not only did they get Kelly, but they also got Wilton Speight as a transfer from Michigan and he could make the offense even better in 2018. What is there not to like about the Bruins this year?
Here come the Trojans. They were very close to making the College Football Playoffs as they were PAC-12 Champions, but the selection committee made it very clear where they thought they should have been as they played Penn State in the Rose Bowl. They did lose Darnold and Ronald Jones as those are guys who made the offense so good, but the hope is that they can replace them with no problem. They do have a tough schedule, but there’s a good chance they could even make the College Football Playoffs.
The Utes have all the weapons to make noise, but they never seem to breakthrough and take the next step. This is a good program, but considering the conference they play in, it’s hard for them to get anything going. They certainly have the offense to match with any other team in the conference any day of the week so expect them to compete in every game. And considering how the division might be up for grabs, they should be able to compete for the division crown.
James Rowe: I’m very boring with my picks here, but I think it will be a USC-Washington PAC-12 Championship game and with the Huskies taking the championship.
Thomas Martin: I’m also going to be boring and predict the same thing. The Huskies are poised to have a dream season, finally being able to land a spot in the playoff after winning the Pac-12.