CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017 Season Predictions: What Will Happen In The Pac-12
5 predictions of what will happen this season in the Pac-12.
What Will Happen? 5 Pac-12 Predictions
1. The Pac-12 Will Actually Win Important Early Non-Conference Games
The Pac-12 was a big dud early on last season.
There were a few decent September performances and a stunner when Cal took down Texas, but overall, the league stunk it up.
It was hard to pump up the conference with Oregon losing at Nebraska, Oregon State losing to Boise State and Minnesota, Washington State getting whacked by an FCSer for a second year in a row, Arizona dropping a thriller to BYU, UCLA going down to Texas A&M, and Colorado putting up a fight in a loss at Michigan.
And, of course, in the biggest problems in terms of perception, USC got destroyed by Alabama in the Pac-12’s marquee matchup to kick things off.
This season, the conference will make a big splash throughout September including Stanford winning at San Diego State, Arizona State surviving a shootout with Texas Tech, Utah getting by BYU, UCLA getting revenge against Texas A&M, Oregon taking care of Nebraska, and USC beating Texas.
There will be a few issues, though. Cal won’t get by North Carolina or Ole Miss, and Colorado State will do its part against Oregon State and against the Buffs, because …
2. Colorado Will Take A Big Step Back
The South champ will be okay offensively, but the defense loses a ton off of last year’s shocker. Worse yet, the Pac-12 is better.
Things will look fine early on – especially if there’s yet another win over Colorado State – but having to start out the Pac-12 season with Washington followed up by three road games in four weeks will end any shot of repeating.
Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA won’t be nearly as banged up as they were last season, and the Utah game – Colorado won 27-22 – is in Salt Lake City to end the regular season.
3. Washington Will Get Back To The College Football Playoff
Yeah, many of the 2016 duds on the schedule will be stronger – like Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State – but when eight of the first nine games are against teams that didn’t go bowling, that ninth game is against Colorado, and there’s no USC or UCLA to face from the South, it’s going to be a good year.
The defending Pac-12 champs don’t lose all that much – or, at least, not enough to crash and burn against this slate.
There’s a brutal start to the Pac-12 season in terms of going away from home, with four of the first five games on the road, but that means the finishing kick is fantastic with three November games in Seattle, including the showdown against Oregon.
Like last year, there will be a tough Pac-12 loss along the way – this time, it’ll be at Stanford – but the Dawgs will once again go 11-1 in the regular season and take the Pac-12 title, because …
4. USC Won’t Be Quite As Amazing As Everyone Will Predict
San Darold will be fantastic, the defensive tandem of Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin will be unstoppable at times in the backfield, and – as always – there will be enough talent to get the NFL types excited.
But USC will lose twice in the regular season.
The schedule isn’t a problem with almost all of the top games – Stanford, Texas, Utah and UCLA – at home, and with no Washington or Oregon to face, but the very good team with the very great quarterback, will just miss out on being a Pac-12 champ.
It’ll lose on the road to a resurgent Notre Dame squad and against one of the improved Pac-12 teams – like Arizona State – to screw up everyone’s preseason predictions.
5. Oregon Won’t Quite Be Oregon Again, But …
With the coaching change and the energy and attitude from Willie Taggart, the Ducks be far better after last year’s puzzling 4-8 disaster.
The horrendous defense will still be an issue – Taggart’s great USF team couldn’t stop anyone last year, either – but at least the offense will be more efficient, more consistent, and far more explosive with the QB-RB combination of Justin Hebert and Royce Freeman pushing hard for All-America honors
However, Washington – again – will still be outstanding, and Stanford will be even better, even without Christian McCaffrey being Christian McCaffrey.
Being third in the Pac-12 North might not be quite what Duck fans are dreaming of, but winning nine regular season games will crank up the hype for 2018.
Where will everyone end up? For all of the Pac-12 Bowl Projections?