The 2019 Pac-12 Preview with the Game of the Year, Players of the Year, top pro prospects, big-time players who deserve a bigger spotlight, and more.
Can the Pac-12 get past the rebuild?
The conference was certainly entertaining last year, and it was easily the most unpredictable of the Power Five leagues overall – who saw USC and UCLA being that bad? – but when Washington lost to Auburn right out of the gate, that all but set the tone for the rest of the season.
There were plenty of solid teams, but no truly great ones. The bowl season doesn’t mean everything – or anything, really, if it’s not the College Football Playoff – but going 3-4 with those three wins coming by a combined four points over Iowa State (Washington State in the Alamo) and against mediocre Pitt (Stanford’s win in the Sun Bowl) and Michigan State (Oregon’s win in the RedBox Bowl) teams wasn’t a good look for the distant fifth-best conference in the Power Five.
However, UCLA starting over under Chip Kelly. Kevin Sumlin had a year to put his stamp on Arizona, Jonathan Smith was just getting going overhauling Oregon State, and Herm Edwards was getting back in the swing of things at Arizona State.
All four have to be better, and they should be.
Colorado will absolutely be stronger under new head coach Mel Tucker, and no way, no how will USC stink like that again.
If all six of those teams can be stronger, then the Pac-12 is about to be a blast.
Utah is even more of a killer this season, especially if its offensive backfield can stay in one piece.
Stanford quietly has a terrific team in place to do some damage, Washington State is going to be grossly underestimated – again – Cal will once again have one of the nation’s best defenses, and Oregon and Washington are going to be powerhouses.
The problem? If all 12 programs appear to be as good or stronger, that leads to the dreaded P word – parity.
The Pac-12 needs to get off to a hot start in non-conference play, it needs to have a fun and competitive season, and it needs a superstar to bust out from the pack.
It needs its own Clemson, or Alabama, or Oklahoma, or Ohio State. It needs to get out of the dark and into the College Football Playoff.
That’s not going to happen, but the season is about to be a whole lot of fun.
Pac-12 Team That Will Surprise
There’s just no way a Chip Kelly-coached college team can continue to be that bad. UCLA was rolling along with mediocre year after mediocre year, but was 2018 a step back to take a monster leap forward? It might take another season to get there – it takes a while to get the lines right – but the team improved as the year went on, and the youth movement should pay off.
The secondary and back seven have speed and upside, the skill talent is there on the offensive side, and the coaching really is that good. It’s not going to be a Pac-12 championship season, but the Bruins will at least go bowling.
– UCLA Team Preview
Pac-12 Team That Will Disappoint
It’s all relative. The Ducks will be terrific, and it’s certainly possible they could roll into the Pac-12 Championship … and it won’t be good enough.
As we saw last year, winning the Pac-12 title is nice, and getting there is terrific if you’re Utah and you’ve never been there before, but Oregon has the talent returning to push for the College Football Playoff.
Of course winning the conference championship and going to the Rose Bowl would be massive, but there’s 12-1 upside on this year’s team with the expectations to match. Anything less will fall a little flat.
– Oregon Team Preview